A Taste of the World: Vietnamese Soup

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Soup again?" And after last week's recipe, I don't blame you. However, take my word for it when I say, this week's recipe is the best one by far. Being relatively new to the American food scene, Vietnamese cuisine is very flavorful and extremely healthy. You may have heard of or even tried Pho before, being as that's the most commonly served Vietnamese dish here, but I decided to try something new.

Sup Mang Tay Nau Cua, or White Asparagus and Crab meat soup is an awesome and easy recipe to try out, but be warned, fresh crab is very expensive. For those of you who feel you can't cook, give this recipe a try. This soup also features a new ingredient most probably haven't tried before, Nuoc Mam, or fish sauce. Don't be afraid, it's only a small amount, and it adds just the right burst of flavor.

In Vietnam, soups are traditionally a breakfast dish, filled with noodles and vegetables. However, Sup Mang Tay is customarily a small first course dish as it does not have any noodles.

Start by mixing the chicken broth, half the fish sauce, and some salt and sugar into a medium sized pot on medium heat, once that starts to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer.  Meanwhile, take a smaller frying pan and heat it up with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add chopped shallots and garlic and let them simmer for about a minute and add the crab, the rest of the fish sauce, and some black pepper. Let the crab mixture heat through for about a minute and then put it aside for later.

Here's the tricky part: cornstarch. Take two tablespoons of cornstarch in a small bowl and add two tablespoons of cold water. Mix until it becomes a smooth white liquid. Now slowly stir this mixture into the soup. While the soup boils, crack an egg into a small bowl, take a fork and lightly beat the egg. Once you're done, add it to the boiling soup and slowly stir.

Now you are ready to add the crab mixture and asparagus. You should have cut the asparagus into small one-inch sections. Let it cook for another five minutes, and it should be ready. Once you take it off the heat, you can use cilantro, green onion and pepper to garnish the dish and add some extra flavor.