Saturday, 16 February 2008

Chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg)

I adore chawanmushi. My mum used to make Chinese steamed egg very frequently when I was a child and I love the smooth texture and eggy flavour. Japanese chawanmushi is slightly different in that it is made with dashi stock instead of water and certain ingredients are placed within the bowl as filling. The proportion of water to egg is also higher which results in a more 'wobbly' and smooth texture.

I tried making this at home a few weeks ago and was delighted at the success. I have eaten chawanmushi with all kinds of filling, ranging from chicken, prawns and baby clams to gingko nut, crabsticks, fish cake and mushrooms, so feel free to adapt to individual taste and availability. Don't be alarmed by the amount of water/stock; the egg mixture will set with the right length of time in the steamer.

Chawanmushi 1

Ingredients (serves 2)

3 large eggs
500ml dashi (or chicken stock), cooled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
4 thin slices of chicken, sprinkled with some soy sauce
4 sections of crabsticks,
Slices or strands of Shitake, shimeiki or enoki mushrooms


1. Break the eggs into a large ball and beat lightly without foaming the mixture (draw the letter Z on the bottom with the tip of chopsticks). Bit by bit, add the cooled dashi, salt and soy sauce.
2. Strain the eggs mixture through a sieve or net to get a completely smooth texture. Discard the bits of stringy egg white left in the sieve.
3. Divide the chicken, crabsticks and mushrooms into 4 chawanmushi cups or heatproof bowls (e.g. ramekins). Pour the egg mixture into the 4 cups.
4. Place lids onto the chawanmushi cups or cover ramekins or lidless cups with foil. Steam the eggs in a steamer or on a trivet stand with water at the bottom of a wok. Heat for 1 minutes on hight heat and then reduce to low heat and cook for 12-15 minutes. (If the heat is too strong or the steaming time is too long, the chawanmushi becomes spongy in texture and loses flavour.
5. Prick the surface of the chawanmushi with a bamboo skewer, if if you clear liquid, the chawanmushi is cooked. Chawanmushi can be served chilled in summer and hot in winter.

I have read somewhere that chawanmushi can also be prepared in the oven, although I have not tried it myself. Place chawanmushi cups in a large pan (e.g. roasting tray) and fill 3/4 of the pan with water. Bake at 170 C for 20 minutes. To prevent the surface from burning, cover the bowls or cups with a double layer of aluminum foil.

Chawanmushi 2


Heather said...

Oooh, a savory custard sounds lovely. I will have to try that!

Indigo said...

Ohh, I saw a Japanese egg custard in a recipe book ages ago and have always wanted to have a go - maybe I'll finally give it a try now ^__^

Nilmandra said...

Heather: If you like eggs and custard you'll love this. The flavour is quite delicate.

Indigo: Do try it out, it's really worth the effort :)

mycookinghut said...

Yey! We are both Chawan Mushi fans! I don't mind to have some more :)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

How interesting - I've never come across this before. I love Japanese food, and I love eggs, so I must give this a try sometime.

Julia said...

Great photograph!

I've nominated you for an award by the way:

Little Corner of Mine said...

So smooth and delicate, need to try this!

Nilmandra said...

My cooking hut: Chinese steamed egg or chawanmushi, I love them both!

A forkful of spaghetti: You could order this the next time you are in a Japanese restaurant. If you like it, you could then recreate it at home.

Julia: Thanks for the award!

Little corner of mine: I'm sure your girls will love it!

tigerfish said...

Love steamed egg - Japanese, that is light and Chinese that is very strong on white pepper. :)

Nice blog.

Nilmandra said...

Hi Tigerfish, thanks for dropping by. Love the recipes on your foodblog!

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