If it is on the menu of your local Japanese restaurant, you will be informed that 30 minutes are needed before the dish is served. Since it is my favorite, if I see this on the menu, I am quite willing to wait longer than that to enjoy this very simple to make but rarely served at restaurants, delicacy.
Chawanmushi , literally ‘steamed in a tea bowl’ is a Japanese egg-custard dish. Unlike many other custards, it is usually eaten as a side-dish in a meal. Unusual for a traditional Japanese dish, it is commonly eaten with a spoon. Traditional ingredients are chicken meat, kamaboko (boiled fish cake), ginkgo seeds/nuts (gin’nan), lily root (yuri-ne), shiitake mushrooms, shrimp and mistuba (Japanese wild parsley, clean and refreshing flavor) placed into a tea-cup-like container and poured over with egg mixture flavored with dashi, soy sauce and mirin and steamed.
Chawanmushi • 茶碗蒸し
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 3 large eggs
• 400 ml/ 1 2/3 cup dashi stock
• ¾ tsp salt
• ½ tsp usukuchi (light-colored) soy-sauce preferred or low-sodium soy-sauce
• ½ tsp mirin
• 2 strips of chicken fillets -or- 4 oz/115 gr breast meat
• 4 shrimps
• ½ tsp light soy-sauce
• ½ tsp mirin (non-alcoholic available)
• 2 medium shiitake mushrooms
• 8 slices of kamaboko
• 8~12 stems of mitsuba
• 8 gingko seeds/nuts (ginnan) fresh pre-cooked or canned
◊ Beat eggs with fork/chopsticks so there are no bubbles.
◊ Dissolve 2 gr / ½ stick Hondashi granulated dashi in 1 2/3 cup water.
◊ Add ¾ tsp salt, ½ tsp light-soy-sauce, ½ tsp mirin to the dashi. Add dashi mixture to the beaten eggs. Strain egg/dashi mixture through a finer wire sieve into another bowl.
◊ Cut chicken in ‘small’ bite-size pieces and marinate in ¼ tsp each of light soy-sauce and mirin. (It is not necessary to sear the chicken as shown in the video.)
◊ Shell, de-vein and marinate shrimp in ¼ tsp each of light soy-sauce and mirin.
◊ Cut shiitake mushrooms into 4 pieces each.
◊ Cut kamaboko into ¼”/6mm thick slices.
◊ Cut mitsuba in one inch size.
◊ Open the can of gingko seeds/nuts, drain and immerse them in boiling water in a small bowl and set aside.
◊ Have four 240 ml/ 8 oz cups ready. Chawanmuchi cups or any heat-safe cups will do, with or without lids (aluminum foil may be used). I intentionally used one heat-safe, non-traditional cup to show that you can enjoy this dish without traditional cups.
◊ Split fillings in four and put in cups in following order: chicken, kamaboko, gingko seeds/nuts, shiitake and shrimp. I also added a few stems (not the leaves) of the mituba at this time.
◊ Gently pour the egg/dashi mixture over the fillings, up to 3 cm/ 1″ to the rim. To avoid any bubbles, a chopstick may be used to guide pouring of mixture. See photo illustration.
◊ (Different from the video) I used bain Marie cooking technique.
In medium-sized pot, place a vegetable-steamer with legs. Fill the pot with water to cover 3 cm/ 1″ above vegetable steamer and bring to a boil. (Also, have some boiling water ready in the kettle if more water is needed.) Turn heat as low as your stove allows.
◊ When all bubbling stops (must), gently place cups in hot water with their lids or covered with foil. Water should come half-way up the side of the cups. If it isn’t, gently add water. Tightly cover pot lid with cloth or paper towel. Steam for 30 minutes (or up to 45 minutes if more chicken meat is used or in a bigger cup). Poke the egg custard with a bamboo skewer and if stock in the cup is clear, it is done. Otherwise, put the lids on and steam a while longer until done.
◊ When the custard is ready, take it out of the bath, add mitsuba and put the cups’ lid/cover back and serve.
 Option: Shrimps may be added at 25 min cooking point, not only to assure they are decoratively on the top, but also to be cooked just enough.
NOTE: Japanese ingredients can be expensive, i.e there are 30 gingko nuts in a $6 can; a kamaboko bar can be $3~8, of which only 1/3 is used; 20 stems of mitusba can be $3~4 (radish sprouts may be substituted). Don’t substitute regular white/button mushrooms for shiitake mushrooms (shimeji or enoki mushrooms may be used but they may be more expensive). These recipe’s fillings are decadent, traditional ones but not cast in stone. Varieties of ingredients can be used. One option is making this dish with double the amount of chicken meat and mushrooms, with or without granulated dashi (chicken and shiitake mushroom are stock makers, along with soy-sauce and mirin)
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare ~
This video, for your convenience, will show a visual steps. Please note, although quite similar, my recipe instructions are still somewhat different than the video.
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?