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Chinese Recipes
Crabmeat and Sweetcorn Soup 
This Cantonese dish is widely known in the West and served at virtually all Chinese restaurants worldwide. This delicious soup can be thrown together by a Cantonese chef in about 90 seconds! To make one soup course at home we suggest 5 minutes preparation and 5-minutes cooking time.

Most recipes try and make this dish overcomplicated, when in fact its basic structure is very simple. Our recipe comes from the local restaurants on the streets of Foshan City, Guangdong (Canton).

Chicken and sweetcorn soup is made in a virtually identical way, but please know that most other meat and fish/shellfish do not harmonise with this dish at all. This is because the sweetness of the corn combines in a special way with the strong and savoury crabmeat. Chicken is ok, as are fresh cockles - but the amount of work involved with the latter makes this version a big problem unless you are using left-over cockles from an recent meal. Finely Chopped and desalinated Chinese squid (Calabrese) can work great, but also needs a lot of attention to detail.

Vegetarians have great alternatives; from simply leaving out the crabmeat, to adding a range of complimentary vegetables.

Let's Get Started - Cantonese Crabmeat and Sweetcorn Soup

Chef's Choices 1:

Fresh sweetcorn vs tinned sweetcorn?
We recommend you use a proprietary Brand name tinned corn = consistency. Green Giant is best, closely followed by Del Monte. Fresh corn can vary greatly in sweetness (In China), may be under ripe and require longer cooking. This is a quick dish and we seriously don't need this hassle.

If using fresh corn then you could buy some fresh cooked off the street and slice off the corn with a sharp knife. If not cooked, then slice off kernels and simmer corn, husks and hearts for 15 minutes before separating the corn and the stock from the rest.
Image: Crabmeat and Sweetcorn Soup - Click to Enlarge

Do you really need to make this much work for yourself?
Chef's Choices 2:

Fresh Crab vs bought crabmeat?

In China this isn't really a question at all, because most fresh crabs are small and full of hard compartments. The meat is very difficult to extract, with the only crab taste coming from the claw meat - apart from the yellow/brown bile that all Chinese love (It does taste good actually, once you get your head around it). Buy tinned or frozen from the supermarket, as again, this is a quick dish, not a laborious chore.

Main Recipe

Ingredients: Serves 4 bowls

1 teaspoon corn oil
2 cups sweetcorn or 4 grated cobs
2 cups fish stock - Asians add fish sauce and water direct to the wok
8 oz shredded crab meat (Whatever is available) and pre-cooked is best
1 or 2 eggs (You may want to beat these first)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper (Not black pepper = important)
A little salt to taste (Less is better).
Nb 1: '1 cup' = half a pint.
Nb 2: Stock can be made from fish, chicken, or vegetable cubes. Do not use Oyster Sauce (Too strong a flavour).


Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the corn, and fry for about 30 seconds. Pour in the fish stock - add several slugs of bottled fish sauce and a pint of water to thin; and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and drizzle in the egg while slowly stirring the soup to create a white swirl. Cantonese street chefs do this simply by cracking the egg on the side, also breaking the yoke, and simply drizzling it in. This technique is not for the inexperienced! This dish is now ready.

To serve, add the shredded crabmeat to the 4 serving bowls and add the soup over it. Garnish with finely chopped spring onions, parsley, or whatever you have handy. The picture above shows how a few fine chops of red capsicum peppers can add greatly to the visual presentation. Serve with condiments of salt and black pepper on the table.

Recipe 2

We know that most westerners will not be able to recreate the above dish at home - believe me, I tried and failed!

This is how I make this at home:

Extra ingredients:
1 Teaspoon (light) soy sauce.
1 Tablespoon rough Chinese rice wine (£0.80 per litre, 26%; or ¥3 per bottle)
2 Tablespoons corn starch. In China this is often of a rice-flour derivation, so add more of this than for real maize starch AKA: proper 'cornflour'.

1. Bring the stock to a boil in a large pan. Add the sweet corn, crabmeat, rice wine, seasoning and soy sauce. Allow to simmer for 4 – 5 minutes.

2. Mix the cornflour and water or stock and add a spoonful of the hot soup. Adding a spoonful from the pot is a very important step, do not compromise on this point.

3. Return the mixture to the soup slowly while stirring occasionally and bring back to the boil. Simmer until the soup thickens.

4. Turn off the heat. Whisk the eggs briefly and very slowly stir into the hot soup just before serving so fine ribbons appear. This is very difficult to perfect, so do not to stir harshly, and remember you can also move your hand to accomplish the same effect.

Serve as soon as the egg whitens into silky strands.

Also know that you can alter this recipe to suit your personal palate, or to impress friends at dinner.

Western Chef Recipes also include:

To the above add the following ingredients:
2 oz finely chopped spring onion (Scallions or 'Chinese Leeks')
1 oz freshly minced ginger
1 oz finely crushed and minced garlic
2 teaspoon sesame oil
Instead of rice wine substitute: mirin or dry sherry . The cheapest 'oily' Vodka will work just as well.

Quick Tips:
1. If cooking for both carnivores and vegetarians, then add the shredded crab meat to the bowls of meat-eaters only - simple!
2. If serving Vegan's or non-egg eaters; then serve them first before adding the egg - it won't taste as good, but that's their problem for being so awkward to cook for. Their culinary pandering's should not spoil this classic dish for everybody else. China doesn't do 'vegetarian' cooking.
3. Cantonese street chefs deal with all this by simply having a main pot on the back-burner, and then using several milk saucepans for the final 30-second cook, which are enough for one individual portion, dishing-up appropriately for each person.

Local Cantonese Refinements:

Buy 1 off 'one-hundred-year-old' egg and shelled, dice into 1/4 inch chunks. Add a teaspoonful to each bowl just before serving. Mainland Cantonese chef's would perhaps use this instead of the drizzled fresh eggs.

Related Dishes

If using the old egg above, then know this version works extremely well with similarly-sized Chinese black mushrooms (Shiitake). Know this will compromise the 'Classic' taste of this dish, so small 'snowpuff' (Enoki) mushrooms, individually separated from the bunch work better.

However, if you use the black mushrooms, this then allows you to add diced capsicum peppers and opens the door to other ingredients like diced: mango, carrots, parsnips, celery, chilli peppers, courgette's (zucchini). Add anything the same size as the corn, so if peas turn you on, throw some in.

Vegetarian Options:

However, we have now moved a very long way away from the essence of this classic dish; and perhaps created something vegetarians love?

To complete this transformation we need to replace the crab with something else - and the ideal is quick-fried (1/4 inch) chunks of crispy Tofu. To do this, simply dice the Tofu and flash-fry with oil and soy sauce until golden brown. Cook this at the very beginning and set aside; later adding to the serving bowls.

When cooking for vegetarians I actually like to add 1/4 inch trapezoids of 'first-picked' Runner Beans as they have the colour, the taste, and the visual presentation to make this work a treat.

Bear in mind this has now become a totally different recipe from where we began at the top of this page!


This dish is very adaptable for all tastes and persuasions, however - I simply cannot get past the fact that it is already a world-class dish in its' own right.

Crabmeat and Sweetcorn soup is truly a Cantonese Classic, and is made from the delicious and subtle blending of crab meat and sweetcorn. Please don't presume to emasculate (or ephemera) this dish - it is perfect just the way it is!

This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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