SIZZLING SEAFOOD SOUP
6 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 teaspoons dashi
1 1/2 cups peeled chayote, in about 1 x 1 x 1/4-inch-thick pieces
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch whisked with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup bay scallops
1 cup crabmeat
Oil for deep-frying
1 1/2 cups or 10 squares dried rice cakes (guo ba in Mandarin)
Combine the stock and dashi in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the chayote and simmer until fork tender (about 12 minutes). Add the chili sauce, salt and pepper, adjust seasoning as necessary and return to a boil.
While the stock is boiling, whisk the cornstarch paste in a work bowl to loosen the sediment. Ladle out 1 cup of the hot stock, then pour it in a stream into the paste, whisking constantly. When it is blended, pour into the saucepan, whisking until the soup thickens.
Bring the soup to a rolling boil. Add the shrimp, and as soon as they turn pink, add scallops and crabmeat. Stir a few times. Turn heat down. Keep the soup simmering over low heat.
Heat oil for deep-frying (at least 2 inches deep) in a large wok or skillet. Fry the rice cakes in a single batch. They will expand and turn a golden brown. Moving quickly, remove them with a strainer to a soup tureen.
Immediately bring the rice cakes and simmering soup to the dining table (you have no more than 8 minutes to do this). Pour the soup into the tureen over the rice cakes. Listen to the crackling and sizzling. Serve immediately.