Asparagus Crab Soup (Sup Mang Tay Cua)

Last week, my brother, Trung, left me a message saying that he didn't see asparagus crab soup (sup mang tay cua) on the site. In Vietnamese, asparagus is mang tay and literally translates to "bamboo French". Anyway, I think it's one of his favorite soups.

So, I asked my mom for her recipe and she gave me the steps to making the soup. It's amazing the amount of recipes she keeps in her head. I have a hard enough time remembering just one of them. That's one of the reasons why we started documenting everything on SND.

The soup is easy to make and is essentially an egg drop soup with asparagus and crab. Like making pho, a charred onion is used to add more flavor to the stock. Hungry Bear and I don't like our asparagus mushy and brown, so I only cooked it for a few minutes. The soup turned out great and tasted like my mom's, which made me and my tummy very happy!

There you have it, Trung. Ask and you shall receive. Now, does anyone else have a Viet recipe request for my mom?

Vietnamese Asparagus Crab Soup

Asparagus Crab Soup (Sup Mang Tay Cua) Recipe

SND Note: If you are using homemade chicken stock, the charred onion is not necessary. If you have an electric burner, place a piece of aluminum foil on top of the burner and char the onion on top of the foil. Don't over-beat the eggs if you want ribbons of white and yellow eggs in the soup. For a thicker soup, add additional corn starch.

  • 8 cups (64 ounces) low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/3 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds (2 bundles) asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 1 inch segments
  • 1/2 pound cooked crab meat, remove any shells or cartilage
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 large eggs, barely beaten
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  1. Char the onion halves directly over a gas burner or under a broiler, until blackened and fragrant. Reserve 1/2 cup of chicken stock in a small bowl. In a large stock pot, add the onion halves and remaining stock; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add fish sauce, black pepper, salt and asparagus and cook uncovered for 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, make a slurry by whisking and dissolving the corn starch into the reserved chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium and add the crab meat. Slowly stir in the corn starch slurry into the soup. Continue stirring to thicken, about 1 minute.
  3. While stirring the soup, slowly pour the eggs in a steady stream. Continue stirring eggs to create shreds or ribbons and until eggs are set, about 1 minute. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve by garnishing with cilantro and a little freshly ground black pepper.

Makes 6 servings

[tags]soup, crab, asparagus, onions, chicken stock, vietnamese, easy[/tags]

21 Comments on “Asparagus Crab Soup (Sup Mang Tay Cua)”

  1. It’s everyone’s favorite soup, including mine. :) It’s interesting you used fresh asparagus too. Maybe we can convince another VNese blogger to make it with the proper white canned asparagus? :P

  2. Lan said:

    i only ever had this soup during very special occasions, like Tet or a pham-ily reunion. i think your version is brothy-er than my mom’s. i feel like my mom’s is a tad bit thicker with more egg ribbons.

    does your mom make nam nuong? my mom does but there is no way i could ever learn it from her, she hourds the recipe and i think she’d skin me alive if i ever posted the recipe anyway.

    your pix are fab, as always!

  3. Looks nice! Has your mom ever made it with beef stock instead of chicken?

  4. Chuck said:

    WC, as long as I can remember my mom has been using fresh asparagus in this soup. Maybe we can convince Christine/Holy Basil to make it with canned white asparagus. ;-)

    Lan, the soup is on the darker side because of the brand of stock I used. I know my mom’s friends use a lot more corn starch to thicken the soup. My family likes it on the thinner side. Regarding, the egg ribbons, I didn’t get them as long and fluffy as I wanted… got distracted with the picture taking.

    I’ll ask about the nam nuong. That’s funny about your mom hoarding the recipe.

    ts, The only time she makes beef stock is when she’s making pho or bun bo hue, which is on my list of things to make and post.

  5. Danielle said:

    Does your mom have the recipe for Mi Quang? I love this dish but have yet to find a recipe I can follow. Thanks.

  6. Why is everyones mother making this for them except for mine? She NEVER made this for us. Instead, it was something we had to seek out in restaurants! I’ve gotta go have a talk with her and show her this post! Looks so tasty!!

  7. Carroll said:

    Oooooh, I do believe this is the same soup I reverently slurped several bowls of at one of our (Vietnamese) daughter-in-law’s Phamily gatherings! They made it with canned asparagus, but I would very definitely prefer it this way with fresh!

    Do you (or your wonderful mother :-) have any preference/recommendation as to the brand of Fish Sauce to use? I understand that can make quite a big difference in the flavor and sometimes I begin to panic a little in the aisles of our many local Asian markets when confronted with such a wide array of choices!

    Hey, now *there’s* a blog post idea for you!! Maybe you could take us on a photo tour of your favorite market — perhaps a different aisle each week? I’m sure I’m not your only reader who would really appreciate a tutorial. For example, I know what bitter melon is (looks like) but have absolutely no clue how to use it.

    Heck, forget the blog post — you could publish a book!! “Asian Markets for Dummies”, maybe? (Only with lots more pictures than the usual Dummies series or Idiots’ Guide)

  8. Chuck said:

    Danielle, mi quang is pretty complicated. I don’t remember my mom making this at home, but I’ll ask.

    White on Rice Couple, I’m sure your mom made a lot of wonderful dishes that my mom doesn’t make. I don’t want to get on your mom’s bad side!

    Carroll, canned asparagus is the traditional Viet way because fresh asparagus was difficult and expensive to get in Vietnam.

    As far as fish sauce, there a lot of different types of fish sauce used for different applications. But we usually stick to our favorite one… Three Crab Brand. It works well in just about everything.

    I like your Asian Markets for Dummies idea! Now you have me thinking. There’s a Viet food blogger that does a really good job of showing and explaining different ingredients. I can’t find it now, but when I do I’ll post it here and/or shoot you an email.

  9. Carroll said:

    Thanks for that brand name, Chuck. I’ll look for that one in my local establishments down here (Cupertino).

    As for the book idea, heck yes — do it! I think it would be a very popular title!! Might be a bit of a hard-sell in the middle of Idaho, but you’d have a lock on the East/West Coast markets for sure :-)

  10. CookingInHanoi said:

    I want to try this out, thanks. Does your mom have a recipe for tiet canh vit?

  11. Really awesome looking soup – looks very clean. Great photos too BTW.

  12. masa said:

    nice…. looks yummy….

    these days one can find fresh white asparagus at local farmer markets or your stores with better produce sections, like whole earth. my family always used small tapioca balls as a thickener. i believe it’s for texture :) in any case it gave the soup an interesting look. also, instead of the entire egg, we only used the egg white, slightly beaten, and stirred in slowly, after the soup was bought to a boil of course. i’m sure a pure milky white was a goal…. some reason my parents always called it ghost soup :) i’m sure it was to amuse us…



  13. paresh said:

    i think it tastes delicious, i definately try it. thanks for sharing.

  14. noelle said:

    do you have a recipe for baby clams that are stirfried and served with sesame rice crackers? i have seen it at many restaurants but cannot find a recipe anywhere.

  15. I’m a big-big-big fan of your recipes! specially the vietnamese ones. Last night I prepared this soup, but as in the local supermarket there was not a single piece of crab (even though here in Chile is really fantastic and pretty cheap). But the sparagus were claiming to be prepared and I had a beatyful stock so the crab was replaced by calamari rings (tenderly cooked) and it was pretty good!
    So in case anytime you’re scarce of crab, there’s an alternative!

    Saludos desde Chile!

  16. Liz said:

    Normally cooked with white asparagus (fresh or canned). This is the first time I seen it green.

  17. Thumy said:

    Ahh! So tasty!! I love this soup!

    I was wondering if your mom knew how to make Lau? I don’t know if this is the right way to spell it but it’s kinda like a soup with meats and vegetables and crab balls…..
    Sound familiar???

  18. Tina Le said:

    oh ….. so delicious ! I’m vietnamese . I just come to canada few months ago . And now , I miss vietnamese foods so much . Fresh and nourishing !

  19. Judy P Berger said:

    Just had it for dinner and it was very tasty!


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