Quick and Steamy Chawan-mushi

7 03 2009


Want to get hot and steamy, but in a bit of a rush? This normally time-consuming savoury custard is made in minutes in your microwave. The ingredients are simple but the method is madness, involving tin-foil used in a way I’ve never thought possible (in the microwave). Delicate and a little bit fishy, this savoury dish is best served piping hot and accompanied by a small wooden spoon (do with it as you will).

Ingredients for Chawanmushi:

  • About ¼ cup of your choice of fillings: bite-sized pieces of chicken, shrimp, chunks of white fish, gingko nuts, mitsuba leaf, shiitake mushrooms, etc.
  • Splash of cooking sake and splosh of soy sauce, for marinating fillings
  • 1 egg
  • Dashi (fish stock) 200mL (hot water with about a ¼ tsp of dashi powder)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Soy sauce, 1 tsp

How to make “Chawanmushi”:

1. Get sloshed. First things first – open up the sake (especially if it’s your first time forking chawanmushi) and, if you are adding chicken, shrimp, fish, or anything else meaty, marinate it in a small splosh of sake and soy sauce while you have a glass of real sake (please don’t drink cooking sake – please). Make sure that your fillings are cut into small bite sizes – this is a delicate dish and each spoonful should fit directly into your mouth without any pushing or adjusting of meat pieces.

2. Get in there. Put the marinated ingredients plus any other fillings into a small-ish mug or tall Japanese tea cup (yuu-nomi). Over that, pour the fish stock, soy sauce, egg and pinch of salt. Mix up.

3. Prepare a steamy bath. Here is the trick to quick chawanmushi. Usually, you would put this into a steamer on the stove-top and steam it for about an hour. But to make this quick, you’ll want to use tin-foil and a microwave. Yes, I said it – tin-foil in the microwave. First, cover the opening of the mug tightly with aluminum foil and poke a few holes in it (to let steam escape). Put the mug into a large, shallow bowl, and pour boiling water around the mug to make a bath.

4. Get steamy! Put the whole shebang into the microwave and zap it for 4 minutes. Depending on your microwave and the width of your cup, this could take as little as 4 or 5 minutes or as long as 10. After 4 minutes, take it out and peel back the foil to check. Be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll end up with a hard mess floating in a fishy soup. But if it’s not ready, put it in for another minute or two at a time until it’s ready. The final product should be a soft, jiggly (but solid) custard.

Recipe by: Masayo

Translated by: Hana

This recipe in Japanese




2 responses

15 06 2010

This is a cool idea!!!! ^_^
I used to make my ramen with egg w/ microwave XD, but I never think about making chawan mushi with this
Thanks a lot…
will try and tell

21 01 2013
ryan goodwin

I dig the adjustment for the microwave.

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