I’ve been meaning to make chawan mushi for a while, ever since Alex got me a cute little set of 5 lidded teacups to use for making it. So, Friday night, I finally made them.
Chawan mushi means “steamed in a teacup.” It’s like a cross between custard and soup. You combine whatever small pieces of filling with a savory dashi and egg custard, and you can serve it hot or cold. I especially like them hot, but once the summer heat arrives, I’m sure I’ll begin to prefer the chilled ones too. Since the main flavor of the chawan mushi comes from the stock, make sure to use real homemade dashi, don’t take shortcuts with the powdered dashi for these.
You can use almost anything you want as the filling ingredients. Part of the fun of eating your chawan mushi is finding these yummy secret treasures hidden inside. Some commonly used ingredients are mitsuba, mushrooms, ginko nuts, and a sliver of yuzu rind, but feel free to add whatever tidbits you like. I got my inspiration from 100 Recipes from Japanese Cooking and The Japan Times’ Way of Washoku.
I had some leftover snow peas, sansho berries, and shiitake mushrooms so I used those for my filling along with some chicken thigh and scallops. The sansho berries added a spicy kick, but I didn’t thing that the flavor went well with the rest of the ingredients that I chose, so I left them out of the recipe below. I don’t have a flat steamer, so I baked them in a water bath instead. I accidentally cooked them for a bit too long, so the custard was a bit overdone (the soup would weep out as soon as it was cut with a spoon) and the peas became a little brown. Next time I will make sure to take them out of the oven after 25 minutes. Next time, I think I’ll add a sliver of yuzu or citrus rind to the chawan mushi as well.
*update: here’s a link to a new post with another recipe for chawan mushi (made with the steamer, it’s much easier)
4 large eggs
600 ml dashi
1 tablespoon usukuchi shoyu (light soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon salt (only if serving chilled)
splash of shoyu (soy sauce)
5 bite-sized pieces of chicken thigh
5 whole scallops
10 snow peas
2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced into 5 slices each
5 sprigs mitsuba leaves
Marinate the chicken and scallops in shoyu for about 30 minutes. Cut the mitsuba into approximately 1-inch lengths. Divide the filling ingredients between your five teacups.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. If the dashi is hot, add a little bit to the eggs and beat to temper the eggs. Then add the rest of the dashi, mirin, and usukuchi shoyu and beat well. Finally, strain the egg mixture and pour into the cups so that they are filled evenly.
Place the cups in a steamer and cover. If you line the inside of your steamer’s lid with a cloth or towel it will prevent condensation from dripping onto your custards. Steam for 8 to 10 minutes. The custards are finished when clear juice is visible when they are cut with a sharp knife.
If you don’t have a steamer, you can place them in a water bath and bake for 25 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius. Cover with aluminum foil to prevent the tops from browning.