Corn and crab soup (蟹肉玉米汤, xièròu yùmǐ tāng) is a Cantonese dish with nicely blended flavors. The sweet tastes of fresh corn and steamed crab meat combine with the spiciness of white and smoked red peppers and the richness of egg. It’s quite easy to prepare. For this version, I started with whole crab legs and fresh corn, but you can substitute canned crab and cream of corn soup to save probably half an hour… but this would affect the flavor, of course, and the fun.
The only technical challenge here is adding the egg. You use essentially the same procedure as for egg drop soup, so if you’ve done that successfully, this won’t be any trouble at all. Your goal will be to add the raw egg into the hot soup in a steady thin stream so that it cooks into slim ribbons. I’ve seen a few techniques recommended, the best being to feed the egg into the soup through two chopsticks held gently apart or to drizzle the egg off the back of a fork. I ended up putting the egg into a small cup and then pouring it out through the tines of a fork into the soup. I wish I could have taken a picture of that… but it would have required more hands than I had available at the time.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, start with steamed crab legs.
I used my sturdy pair of kitchen pliers to crack the legs. After that, just a little bit of work will release the meat. There are fancier tools for this sort of thing but my pliers work just fine. When the crab legs are shelled, reserve the meat.
Next comes the corn. You need about 2 cups of corn, which can come from a few sources, namely fresh corn cut straight off the cob, frozen corn boiled for 2-3 minutes and then chopped, or canned corn. I used fresh corn, slicing the kernels in half directly off the cob and then capturing more of the juice by scraping the cob with the back side of the knife.
Fresh scallions, added just before serving, complete the recipe.
INGREDIENTS and PREP:
- 1 lb crab legs, steamed and shelled
- 2 cups chopped fresh corn
- 1/2 cup chicken stock mixed with 1 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 egg, stirred
- 5 cups (about 1 liter) chicken stock, 3 T sake (or sherry), 1/2 tsp ground white pepper, 1/2 tsp ground dried red smoked chili power (such as chipotle)
- 2 scallions, green parts only, sliced into very thin rounds
- Heat the chicken stock, sake or sherry, and dry spices (#5) until softly boiling. Add the corn (#2) and return to a soft boil.
- Add the reserved stock and starch mixture (#3), and stir until the soup slightly thickens.
- Drizzle the egg (#4) into the soup, stirring all the while.
- Turn off the heat and then stir in the scallions (#6).
- Arrange the steamed crab meat (#1) in serving bowls, and spoon the soup around it. Serve hot.
Variations: Omit the corn starch for a thinner soup. (Note: this isn’t going to be a very thick soup anyway.) Add about 4 thinly sliced pieces of ginger and/or one star anise, removing before serving.