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Thai Corn and Crab Soup

(Kaeng Poo Kab Kao Phod)

Practically a fast food, this is a subtle and satisfying soup--appetite stimulating as a first course and nicely slaking and contrapuntal in a traditional Thai meal, where all the dishes are served together and at once. Serve hot to 4 people.

Garnish: cilantro leaves

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat, add garlic and shallots, and fry until fragrant. Pour in chicken stock, fish sauce, crab (or other seafood), and creamed corn. Stir to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for a minute or two.

Meantime, beat the egg with the salt, then drip into the soup, covering the surface--leave for a bit, then gently stir, forming ribbons of egg in the soup liquid. Season to taste with salt and fish sauce. Stir in white pepper. Then ladle into a bowls and top with a design of whole cilantro leaves.