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
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
Get Started - Cantonese Crabmeat and Sweetcorn
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
Do you really need to make this much work for
|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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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