Chawanmushi is a Japanese hot appetizer. It is a type of egg custard, but not sweet. You might find it at sushi restaurants or a little more formal Japanese restaurants in Japan. “Chawan” means tea cup or rice bowl and “mushi” means steamed in Japanese, and it is indeed steamed food in a cup. Chawanmushi’s flavor comes mainly from Dashi, soy sauce and mirin, and even though Chawanmushi is a savory dish, the texture is similar to egg flan.
Chawanmushi is relatively simple to make, so it is a home cooking dish, too. When you eat Chawanmushi at home, it is more like one of the side dishes rather than an appetizer. Still, Chawanmushi can add a special feeling to a mundane meal. It is traditional to add ginkgo seeds and lily roots in Japan, but it is hard to find even in Japanese markets in the US. So we typically omit them, but if you can find them, go for it. They make the dish more authentic. Other ingredients such as Shiitake mushroom, shrimp and chicken gives complex and delicious flavor to this dish. In some parts of Japan, people put Udon noodles in this custard, and that’s called Odamakimushi.
If you have a small cup with a lid to use, that would be perfect, but if not, don’t worry. Just use ramekins or other small bowls and cover with aluminum foil. If you cook too long, there will be little holes on the custard, so check it after 7-8 minutes.
Add Chawanmushi to your Japanese meal, and your family and friends will be very impressed. And they don’t have to know it is not so hard make it.
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups (480ml) Dashi
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp Sake
- 1 tsp Mirin
- 2-4 shrimp, sliced into 2 pieces each if big
- 1/2 chicken thigh, cut into bite size pieces
- 1-2 shiitake mushroom, sliced
- Mitsuba leaves or green onion, chopped
- Preseason chicken and shrimps. In a small bowl, mix chicken pieces with 1/2 tsp soy sauce and 1/2 tsp Sake. In another bowl, mix shrimp and 1/2 tsp soy sauce and 1/2 tsp Sake. Let them sit for a couple of minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix eggs, Dashi, salt, 1 tsp soy sauce, and Mirin together. Strain the egg mixture through a sieve. Let as much egg as you can go through the sieve.
- Place 1/4 amount of chicken, shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms in each of 4 small cups (such as ramekins), then pour egg mixture over them to fill 3/4 of a cup. Cover with aluminum foil and put the covered cups into a steamer.
- Steam at medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Check with a wooden skewer to see if it's done. If clear broth comes out when poked, take the cups out from the steamer.
- Sprinkle Mitsuba leaves and cover again for 2-3 minutes.