Chawan Mushi is a much loved Japanese savory egg custard. It is often homemade and also found in good restaurants where they are made in limited batches. To produce a smooth custard, it has to be steamed at a low temperature. Rapidly boiling water will cause the egg custard to puff up and collapse when removed. This will produce a “rough” custard.
The fun part about eating Chawan Mushi is discovering the “treasures” hidden in the custard. A lot of times what is inside the custard cannot be seen until you dig in. The filling can be as simple as diced chicken meat and kamaboko (steamed fish cakes), or as luxurious as scallops, shrimps, ginkgo nuts, and shiitake mushrooms. I have even used dried scallops which gives the custard a really sweet flavor.
Savory steamed egg custard is fairly common in East Asian cuisine but this Japanese version in individual cups is such a delight! It is normally served as an appetizer and is to be savored slowly.
I have made this many, many times and each time it is a little different. Today, I have decided to use three ingredients you can easily find at your local grocery store – asparagus, shrimps, and fish sticks. You can substitute with pre-cooked chicken, mushrooms, scallops, carrots, and whatever takes your fancy. Do give it a try.
- 4 asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2½-inch pieces
- 4 medium sized shrimps, peeled
- 1 fish stick, cut diagonally into 4 pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups (360ml) slightly warm water
- ½ tsp instant dashi
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp mirin
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- Bring a small pot of water to boil. Lightly salt the water and cook asparagus for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain. Add shrimps and cook until they curl and turn pink. Remove and drain.
- Place 1½ cups (360ml) warm water in a medium sized bowl. Add instant dashi and salt. Stir to dissolve. Add mirin and soy sauce. Set aside to cool.
- Once water is cooled, add eggs. Beat lightly with a whisk. Strain into another bowl.
- Bring a large pan of water to boil. Place a steaming rack in the pan. Reduce heat to medium low.
- Divide asparagus, shrimps, and fish sticks between 2 egg cups or ramekins. Slowly pour the egg mixture evenly between the two cups.
- Carefully place egg cups or ramekins into the prepared steamer. Cover cups with chawan lid or aluminum foil if using ramekins. Place cover on steamer and steam on low heat for 15 minutes or until eggs are set.
- Remove and serve immediately.
NOTE: This post was updated on October 23rd, 2013 with new pictures.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!