This is a deluxe version of a very simple Chinese dish, a particular favourite of mine, the sweetness of the crab and corn pairing very nicely. I use meat picked from a raw crab so as to utilise the shells in my stock to give a deeper crab flavour.
- 2 green blue swimmer crabs (300–350 g each, to give about 240 g crabmeat)
- 3 corn cobs
- 1.5 litres chicken stock
- 125 ml (½ cup) peanut oil
- 1 large white onion, finely sliced
- 3 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
- 3 tsp finely chopped garlic
- 300 ml Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing wine) or dry sherry
- light soy sauce, to season
- 4 eggs, whisked thoroughly
- sesame oil, for drizzling
- ½ cup spring onion (scallion), cut into thin rounds
- river salt and white pepper, to season
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Pick all the meat from the crabs over a bowl, collecting all the delicious juices (it’s best to wear gloves). Pick through the meat thoroughly at the end to remove and discard any stray bits of shell. Place the meat in the fridge and reserve the crab shells.
Using a small sharp knife, shuck the corn kernels from the cob. Set the kernels aside and use a cleaver to cut each cob into four pieces.
In a wide-based saucepan, add the chicken stock, crab shells and corn cobs (and any stray ginger skin or scraps you may have). Place on medium heat and bring to the boil. Once it’s boiled, turn the heat to very low and let it simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan on low heat and add the peanut oil. Once the oil is warm, add the onion, ginger, garlic and a little salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until softened without getting any colour.
Add the corn kernels and keep stirring for a few minutes. Add the rice wine and let the soup base simmer slowly for about 15 minutes, until the wine has reduced by half. It will look thick and like a moist slurry.
Strain the warm stock directly into the saucepan with the soup base. Bring it up to the boil and then turn it down and allow it to simmer for a few minutes to combine all the flavours. Taste it and season with light soy sauce. I tend to add quite a lot of white pepper, too.
Once you are happy, stir in the reserved crabmeat; it will only need to cook for a brief moment.
Just before you are ready to serve, make sure the soup is almost boiling and slowly pour in the egg, using a kitchen spoon to gently mix it through the soup. As soon as the egg is in, remove the saucepan from the heat. Your egg should look like it has formed thin strands. This is often easier to achieve in small batches.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls, drizzle with a little sesame oil and serve with a nice sprinkling of spring onion rounds.
• This soup freezes very nicely and is perfect for breakfast; just make sure to add the egg just before you want to eat it.
• You can easily use picked crabmeat instead, and the soup will still be delicious with plain old chicken stock.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachael Lane.
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This recipe is part of The Seasonal Cook: Crab column.
View previousThe Seasonal Cook columns and recipes.