Monday, January 5, 2009

Mom's Recipes: Xúp Bột Bán (Tapioca and Crab Soup)

Xúp bột bán (tapioca and crab soup) is a recipe I have never encountered other than in my mom's and her family's kitchen. I remember visiting my aunt in California; she made me some with big pieces of fresh crab. How spoiled I am the rare times I get to see family! The main ingredients are tapioca pearls and crab so you have to use a lot of crab.

Xúp Bột Bán (Tapioca and Crab Soup)
Crab paste is used for added crab flavour. If you use enough crab (unlike us chintzy ones) - whole ones ideally, you can skip that ingredient. In Vietnam, they would also shrimp. Tapioca is cooked separately so not too much starch is released into the broth. If you keep it until the next day, the soup may thicken a bit; just add more water.

* oil
* ¼ onion, finely chopped
* 150 g lump crab, frozen of fresh if you're lucky
* 1 tbsp crab paste
* 1-½ L chicken broth, ideally Vietnamese flavoured one
* water
* 1 cup tapioca pearls
* green onion and coriander, for garnish

Sauté onion and crab in a bit of oil until onion is softened.
Add crab paste.
Add chicken broth.
In a separate small pot, bring water to a boil.
Lower heat and add the tapioca.
Stir the mixture so the tapioca pearls do not stick to each other.
Cook for about 5 minutes - they do not have to be fully cooked because they will continue cooking in the soup.
Drain the tapioca pearls.
Add tapioca to the soup.
Bring the soup to a boil and turn off. If you let it sit for a bit, the tapioca pearls will turn transparent, meaning they are cooked. If you want to serve the soup right away, cook until the pearls are cooked.

Block of frozen crab.

Add tapioca pearls into boiling water.

Stir the tapioca pearls so they don't stick.

Draining the tapioca pearls.

Ready to enjoy!

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