Chawanmushi – Steamed Egg Custard

Chawanmushi is one of those dishes that seems like it would be difficult to make, it’s a really simple dish and easy to get it to come out perfectly.  It’s a dish that we eat at my house quite often- the simplicity of the dish and the fact that everybody loves the rich taste and silky texture makes it an easy choice, especially on a cold day.

Chawanmushi is one of those dishes that seems like it would be difficult to make, it’s a really simple dish and easy to get it to come out perfectly.  It’s a dish that we eat at my house quite often- the simplicity of the dish and the fact that everybody love it makes it an easy choice, especially on a cold day.

Although Chawanmushi is usually served as an appetizer, it can also be served as a light entree.  It’s satisfying flavor and soft consistency make it a very tasty and satisfying dish to enjoy.

Chawanmushi is a savory steamed egg custard.  The word Chawanmushi refers to the cooking style – chawan, meaning bowl, and mushi, meaning steamed.  Chawanmushi is steamed in the same bowl it is eaten out of.  Chawanmushi is usually served in a covered bowl which serves two purposes – to keep the custard hot and so that the beautiful custard is presented to the guest as a surprise that is revealed when they lift the lid.

 

Chawanmushi - Steamed Egg Custard

Chawanmushi has to be prepared just right – cook it too long and it is hard and full of bubbles, and not long enough and it is watery and soupy.  I usually steam Chawanmushi over low heat and with the cover on for about 20 minutes to get it just perfect.

Chawanmushi is normally filled with a variety of ingredients for guests to enjoy, with the fillers hidden in the custard for the guests to find as they eat it.  Chawanmushi can be found at all types of restaurants and served as a high class accompaniment to a seasonal kaiseki feast, or as a simple side dish with a bento.

PREP COOKING YIELD
5 mins 20 mins Serves 4
PREP 5 mins
COOKING 20 mins
YIELD Serves 4

Ingredients:

Custard

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp cooking sake
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups of konbu (kelp) dashi, at room temperature

Fillers and toppers

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh
  • 4 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 slices of Kamaboko (Japanese fish cake)
  • 4 ginnam nuts
  • 8 mitsuba leaves (Japanese parsley) to top or as a filler
  • 4 tsps Black Caviar to top (optional)

 

Instructions:

  • Chop the chicken, shrimp, and kamaboko into small bite sized pieces.
  • Whisk the eggs, sake, mirin, soy sauce, and dashi together until the mixture is smooth.

  • Pour the mixture through a sieve twice to filter out and large chunks of egg.

  • Distribute the kamaboko, shrimp, chicken and ginnam nut into four glass or ceramic bowls.

  • Lay one mitsuba leaf on top of the mixture.

  • Cover and steam the bowls for 17 minutes over low heat.

  • Remove the cover from the steamer, uncover each bowl, and lay any toppers (such as caviar or additional mitsuba leaves) on top.
  • Cover the bowls and steam for another 3 minutes over low heat.
  • Serve hot with the covers on.

Notes:

  • Chawanmushi is best when served hot.  For best results, steam just before serving.
  • While steaming, the bowls should be covered to prevent bubbles from forming.  You can cover each bowl with a top or a piece of aluminum foil, or cover all the bowls with a piece of cheesecloth.
  • If you are going to cook a lot of steamed dishes I recommend investing in a steaming pot.  It’s well worth it.

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