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Chawanmushi or Japanese steamed egg

October 24, 2011

My mum makes the perfect steamed egg. There is really nothing much to it – egg, water, beaten, steamed with a dash of soy sauce added just before serving. She steams it in a rice cooker and almost every single time, produces a perfectly smooth and slightly wobbly bowl of steamed egg. She’s taught me how to do it, but I have NEVER been able to make her perfect steamed egg.

When I was introduced to Japanese food, one of the first dishes I ever tried was chawanmushi, or steamed egg. It’s slightly different from mum’s, served in little Japanese cups in restaurants with a ginko nut, sliver of prawn, small piece of chicken and a slice or two of shiitake mushroom.

Since I can’t seem to make mum’s perfect steamed egg, I thought I’d give this one a try instead. I’ve made them in Japanese tea cups but you can use little rice bowls instead. Dashi is Japanese soup stock made from dried kelp and bonito flakes which is available at Japan Centre in London or online. If you haven’t got dashi to hand, a light chicken or vegetable broth should work too, although I’ve not tried this.

What you’ll need

  • 600ml of dashi
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 medium sized prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 dried shiitake, soaked in 1 cup of lukewarm water for 1 hour, then stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp chopped chives to garnish

To make your chawanmushi

1. Mix together the dashi, soy sauce and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Carefully beat the eggs in a small bowl until the egg whites and yolks are thoroughly combined but not frothy. Set up a sieve suspended over another bowl. Now pass the beaten eggs through the sieve, using a spoon to help push the eggs through. Discard any solid parts that can’t pass through the sieve. Passing the eggs this way is the most important step in the process.

3. Add the egg mixture to the dashi, soy sauce and salt, and mix well.

4. Ready 4 Japanese tea cups and add 2 pieces of chicken, 1 prawn and 2 slices of shiitake to each one. Pour in the egg-dashi mixture to fill each cup.

5. Set up a steamer and bring the water to a boil. Cover each chawanmushi cup with cling film (this ensures a smooth top) and place them in the steamer. Steam for 11 – 15 minutes on medium heat, or until the egg in each cup is just set.

6. Garnish with some chopped chives and serve warm.

Yields 4 cups of chawanmushi

Recipe adapted from Japanese Food Report


8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2011 1:02 PM

    It’s amazing how such simple ingredients can form something so elegant.

  2. October 25, 2011 11:22 PM

    Look very soft and extremely well done!

  3. October 26, 2011 6:33 PM

    What a beautiful dish and what an elegant presentation. Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to give your recipe a try soon

  4. October 26, 2011 11:54 PM

    I saw something similar to this on one of Rick Stein’s cookery programmes and he cooked it for a VIP . I thought it looked so delicate and yours looks beautiful I have to say! Do you know of any online companies that would sell dashi?, no oriental stores near to me sadly.

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