* cut into 1-inch sections with canning liquid reserved
This soup was probably created by some homesick Frenchman. White asparagus (a French import), packed in jars or cans, is used for this recipe. Traditionally, crumbled, salted duck egg yolk is added to season the soup.
If white asparagus is unavailable, use frozen or fresh asparagus (in this case, add the fresh asparagus to the broth from the very beginning and cook until tender, before adding the remaining ingredients).
Combine the broth, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, the sugar and salt in a 3 quart soup pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the shallots and garlic and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the crab meat, the remaining 2 teaspoons fish sauce and black pepper to taste. Stirfry over high heat for 1 minute. Set aside.
Bring the soup to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir gently until the soup thickens and is clear. While the soup is actively boiling, add the egg and stir gently. Continue to stir for about 1 minute. Add the crab meat mixture and asparagus with its canning liquid; cook gently until heated through.
Transfer the soup to a heated tureen. Sprinkle on the coriander, scallion and freshly ground black pepper.
Makes: 4 to 6 servings.
From "The Foods of Vietnam" by Nicole Rauthier. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 1989.
Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; May 24 1993.