One of the aspects I truly enjoy about delving into global cuisines is the delightful variation in dishes from one country to another. Consider egg custard, for instance. I believed I had a good understanding of this dish until I savored the unique experience of enjoying egg custard, or Chawanmushi, in Japan.
Chawanmushi is a traditional Japanese steamed egg custard. The name “Chawanmushi” literally translates to “steamed in a tea bowl,” which reflects its cooking method and presentation. It’s a delicate blend of eggs, dashi (a Japanese stock made from fish and seaweed), and soy sauce.
Unlike custards I had in the West, Chawanmushi is a savory custard with savory ingredients, which can include chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, kamaboko (fish cake), and various vegetables. They even add udon noodles to the dish (Odamaki Udon).
The Japanese egg custard is typically served in a small teacup or bowl, and often enjoyed as an appetizer or side dish in a traditional Japanese meal.
The Chawanmushi recipe is not difficult. I just needed to arrange the ingredients carefully in the teacup or bowl and then pour the silky custard mixture over them. The steaming process allows the flavors of the ingredients to meld together, creating a harmonious and balanced dish. Here is how to make Chawanmushi – Japanese steamed egg custard:
Chawanmushi – Japanese steamed egg custard
- 2 cups dashi Japanese soup stock
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin sweet rice wine
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Shitake mushrooms sliced
- Ginkgo nuts peeled and cooked
- Kamaboko fish cake, thinly sliced
- Various vegetables e.g., thinly sliced carrots, snow peas, or baby corn
- In a saucepan, heat the dashi over medium heat until it’s hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs gently. Try not to create too many bubbles.
- Add soy sauce, mirin, and salt to the beaten eggs. Mix well.
- Strain the egg mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to ensure a smooth texture.
- Distribute your desired ingredients (shiitake mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, kamaboko, and vegetables) evenly into individual Chawanmushi cups or small heatproof bowls.
- Gently pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in each cup, covering them evenly.
- Place the cups in a steamer and steam over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes or until the custard is set. You can check by inserting a toothpick; if it comes out clean, it’s done.
- Carefully remove the cups from the steamer, and your savory egg custard is ready to be served!
You can use an Instant Pot or microwave to make this Japanese egg tard. Follow the instructions above till step 6. And then:
- With the Instant Pot, cover the cup or bowl tightly with aluminum foil. Place a trivet in the Instant Pot, add 1 cup of water, and arrange the cups on the trivet. Close the lid, set it to the “Steam” function, and cook for about 10-15 minutes.
- For the microwave, you can use a similar process, but cover the bowls with microwave-safe plastic wrap and microwave in short intervals, checking the consistency until the Chawanmushi – Japanese custard is set.