“Chawan” means tea cup or rice bowl and “mushi” means steamed in Japanese, and it is indeed steamed food in a cup. Chawanmushi is an egg custard dish found in Japan, and unlike many other custards, it is usually eaten as a dish in a meal, as it contains savoury rather than sweet ingredients.
The custard consists of an egg mixture flavoured with soya sauce, dashi, and mirin, with numerous ingredients such as shiitake mushrooms, kamaboko, yuri-ne (lily root), ginkgo and boiled shrimp placed into a tea-cup-like container. The recipe for the dish is similar to that of Chinese steamed eggs, but the toppings often differ. Since egg custard can't be picked up by chopsticks, it's one of the few Japanese dishes that is eaten with a spoon.
There is really nothing like a silky custard with a slightly sweet and savory broth topped with delicacies to soothe the hungry stomach while you wait for the main meal to be served. I hope you give this recipe a try because it is easy and practical to make at home.
- Large egg: 2 pieces
- Shimeiji mushrooms: 30 grams
- Chicken breast / thigh, cut into bite sized cubes: 10 grams
- Prawn, de-shelled & de-veined, sliced into four pieces: 1 piece
- Carrot and/or white radish, thinly sliced: 2 slices
- Potato flour: 1 tablespoon
- Dashi soup stock: 200 ml
- Soya sauce: 1 tablespoon
- Mirin: 1 1/2 tablespoons
- Soya sauce: 1 tablespoon
- Sake: 1 tablespoon
- Dashi soup stock: 2 tablespoons
- Coat prawn pieces with potato flour and rinse them clean to remove any smell from the prawn.
- Mix marinade ingredients together in a small bowl, and add the prawn pieces and chicken cubes. Leave to marinade for at least 15 minutes.
- Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl. Add the soup ingredients and mix well.
- Prepare a large pot of water. The water level should only reach half of the chawanmushi cup. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting.
- While the water in the pot is boiling, drain any liquid from the marinated prawn pieces and chicken cubes. Divide the prawn pieces, chicken cubes and mushrooms equally into two chawanmushi cups. Pour the egg mixture through a strainer into the cups to remove any foam from the egg mixture.
- Carefully place the filled chawanmushi cups into the water. Remove some water from the pot if the water level exceeds half of the chawanmushi cup.
- Cover the mouth of the pot with a clean, dry kitchen towel and then the pot lid. This is to prevent hot water droplets from falling onto the surface of the chawanmushi.
- Cook for 10 - 15 minutes on the lowest heat setting. Insert a skewer into the centre of the egg to check if it is done.
- Add carrot slices on top and continue steaming again for 1 minute.
- Remove chawanmushi cups from the pot and serve hot.
- Chawanmushi is typically served in chawanmushi cups (small cup with lids). Otherwise, you can use ramekins, pretty little small bowls or oven proof mugs to prepare the steamed custard.
- Use a small cookie cutter to slice your carrot and/or white radish into thin slices. I used a cookie cutter in the shape of a flower to add a touch of whimsy to my chanwanmushi.