Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chawanmushi. Japanese Steamed Egg Custard


Chawanmushi might sound exotic and look complex, but it's so simple to make.
it's really just a delicate egg custard filled with delicious little savory nuggets.
i'll be the first to admit that i DO NOT know Asian cooking techniques and terms as well as i would like to, so bear with me.  if you happen to be Asian or just know more about Asian cuisine...by all means drop me a note.  

BUT...for now i will keep it simple.

as i understand a classic Chawanmushi is egg mixed with dashi, a touch of soy, a splash of mirin...then poured over a few ingredients like diced chicken, shrimp, ginko nuts...and steamed to a delicious silky egg custard.
typically served as an appetizer, this dish can be transformed with just about anything you want to put into it...add udon noodles and you've got a main dish called Odamaki Mushi.
i've made this quite a few times...for a light dinner i added diced roasted chicken and sauteed crimini mushrooms in the custard and topped it with carrot, chive and a slice of octopus sashimi (shown in white bowl).   for a simple version (blue bowl) i added a few mushrooms i had already sauteed from the fridge...done...so simple...so delicious.  


NOTE...don't be scared off by the classic ingredients DASHI,  Mirin, Ginko Nuts...

this can also be made with good ol' chicken broth.
turns out this is an absolute "feel better" comfort food for any nationality.

BUT...i must say...making your own Dashi is too easy.  once you make it, you will recognize that distinct flavor.  Japanese cuisine uses it as a background stock in a lot of cooking. you'll find the Konbu Seaweed and the Bonita Flakes at most health food stores.  i really suggest going out and finding an Asian market near you.  they are a lot of fun with all kinds of goodies you've never seen.  i go just about every weekend and always find something new.  if you're in So. California, look for 99 Ranch Market...it's like a big Asian Ralph's.  they will have whatever you are looking for...and MORE.


CHAWANMUSHI
check link for other's comments and original recipe

2 large eggs
3/4 cup dashi (see below) or broth of choice
NOTE...some recipes call for more broth.  i like this amount of broth, but you can experiment with the ratio of eggs to broth.
1 dash mirin or sake
1/2 tsp soy
1/2 cup cooked diced chicken
chives
shredded carrots
a few Ginko nuts if you can get them
just a few sauteed crimini or shitaki mushrooms, diced or left sliced for topping.
your choice for more toppings.

set up a steamer that your bowls of choice will fit in.  start the steamer...you will want it hot and ready to steam when filled bowls go in.
in a medium bowl, whisk eggs gently with broth, mirin and soy.  divide diced chicken and diced mushroom into 2 - 3 small bowls.  pour egg mixture through strainer into bowls, slowly as to not disturb the diced items.  you don't want to have them floating about.
cover each bowl.  i used double saran wrap a few times and it works well.  just take care removing wrap when done so as not get condensation into finished chawanmushi

set covered bowls into flat surface steamer (steamer that is good and ready).
cover steamer and turn heat to a simmer.  
steam for 12-15 minutes (depending on size of bowls) or until egg is set...firm, but soft like silken tofu.

top with chives, green onion, shrimp, seared scallop. mushrooms, etc.....

DASHI
2 1/2 cups water
1 square dried konbu (kelp)
15g dried bonito flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soy

briefly rinse konbu, put in sauce pan with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  just before boil, remove from heat and add bonito flakes and soy.
let this steep and come to room temp...strain

NOTES...i added a heaping Tbsp of fresh diced ginger  when i added the bonito.  then strain.

store in the fridge as you would a simple stock.  i think it would freeze well so you can have some ready for chawanmushi on the fly.

you never know...this could be your new comfort food.

(woops...custard with chopsticks?...quite often my head is not using the right utensil)

4 comments:

polly said...

Thank you for posting this recipe! Chawan mushi is one of the best Japanese comfort foods that you so rarely see in restaurants. If people only knew about it, they would be in love :)

Jules and Ruby said...

hi Polly. i love this dish. i want more people to enjoy it as much as i do. thanks for the great comment

LC said...

Had this at Solo Sushi Ya in Newmarket ON and it is delicious.

Jules and Ruby said...

hi LC...thanks for the comment. you should make some homemade...it's delicious and easy...and pure comfort for a rainy day.

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