asparagus — White asparagus is usually used to keep the soup white. White asparagus is simply green asparagus that must not turn green from sunlight. It is milder in flavor and much more tender. White asparagus is rarely available fresh and then costs twice as much. You can get canned white asparagus which seems to be readily available. If you can’t find white asparagus, use green asparagus.
eggs — Egg whites are whipped until fluffy and then drizzled into the hot soup to make egg ribbons. For this reason it is called egg drop soup. Usually just the egg white is used, but if color is not a problem, use the whole egg. The yolk gives the soup more flavor and richness.
Hard boiled quail eggs — Sometimes there are hard-boiled quail eggs in the soup. It’s not required, but they’re a welcome addition. My kids love hard-boiled quail eggs, so they’re an absolute must for me. You can get them fresh and hard-cook them at home for the best possible flavor, or buy the canned version. Preserved quail eggs are caustic, but they will.
tapioca starch — To thicken the soup, make a mash of tapioca starch and water. Make sure to mix the tapioca starch with room temperature water separately from the pot. Once completely dissolved, pour the mixture into the saucepan. Never add tapioca starch directly to a hot pot. It will clump together. Not good.
If you don’t have tapioca starch, substitute potato starch. Cornstarch can also be used in a pinch.
Optional toppings — No soup can remain naked. When ready to serve, add thinly sliced cilantro or scallions, a pinch of ground white pepper, and a drizzle of sesame oil. Don’t have ground white pepper? No problem. Use ground black pepper.
Other ingredients you can use:
Mushroom – shiitake (remember these can darken the broth slightly), straw, or enoki mushrooms.
White or Snow Mushroom – Similar in taste and texture to black mushroom, also known as Wood Ear Mushroom, but white in color. Provides a great crunch. This is my choice when not using white asparagus.
Carrots – I like to use frozen diced carrots. Works perfectly!
Corn – Great addition, especially when sweetcorn is in season.
Complete the festival
Serve this soup with these other accompanying celebratory dishes:
Prawns with sugar cane skewer (Chạo Tôm)
Salt and Pepper Crab (Cua Rang Muối)
Salt and Pepper Prawns (Tôm Rang Muối)
Mung Bean Pudding (Chè Hoa Cau)