Chawan Mushi Recipe

Savoury steamed egg custards are fairly common in Asian cuisine: the Chinese have steamed eggs; the Koreans have gaeran jim; and the Japanese have chawan mushi. All three dishes are similar in preparation and taste, yet vastly different.

My mom used to make steamed eggs a lot when we were kids; it’s a standard at home-style Chinese meals. It fast, easy and was one of the dishes that we would unfailingly eat.

Everyone has a different way of making steamed eggs: my mom would add a little bit of ground pork and a couple of salted duck eggs. My brother and I would eat around the duck eggs, leaving little orange islands in our wake. Eating a bowl of rice topped with steamed egg reminds me of childhood in the best way. It was and still is one of my favourite comfort foods.

The first time I tried to steam my own eggs it was an ultimate fail. I was in high school and for some reason or other my parents weren’t home so I was making my own dinner. It started out promising: I gently scrambled my eggs the way my mom did, added salt and water and set the whole dish in a wok to boil over high heat. When I opened the lid, my eggs looked like something out of a horror movie. They were bubbly, grey and somehow managed to grow into a strange egg mass that was trying to crawl out of the pan. Not one to waste food, I gave it a try, but it was rubbery and un-soy-sauce-savable, so I left it on the counter to show my mom and ask what went wrong.

When she came home that night she laughed at me for a good fifteen minutes. Turns out you’re not supposed to steam eggs on high heat. There are tonnes of tips out there on how to make perfectly smooth steamed eggs.

If you’ve never had steamed eggs, you’re missing out. The smooth, silky texture is akin to soft tofu, but more savoury and creamy. The Japanese version of steamed egg, chawan mushi is usually made with dashi for a more complex umami flavour.

I found a Chang recipe on foodandwine.com for chawan mushi topped with shiitakes and crab meat. I switched it up a little bit, omitting the cashews and substituting prawns for crab meat. I also didn’t use instant dashi powder, which may be why my custard was not seasoned enough. Strangely enough there is no seasoning in this recipe, so feel free to serve it with soy sauce.

Chawan Mushi Recipe adapted from foodandwine.com

2 cups of dashi
3 large eggs
8 large cooked prawns (I shelled, de-viened and boiled them gently until cooked)
4 small shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and very thinly sliced
1 green onion cut into matchsticks

In a medium bowl, using chopsticks, very gently stir the eggs until blended, without incorporating too much air. Stir in the dashi, then strain the mixture into a measuring cup.

Divide the egg mixture between 4 shallow 1-cup bowls and wrap each bowl in plastic. Preheat a steamer. Add the bowls to the steamer and turn the heat down to medium low. The water should be at a gentle simmer. Steam for 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are set.

Immediately transfer the bowls to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Unwrap the custards. Top with the prawns, shiitakes and green onions and serve.

25 Comments add yours

  1. Love chawan-mushi and its silky texture is irresistible! Thanks for your recipe to share us all :)

    Thank you!

    steph on April 15th, 2010 at 11:34 am
  2. Love your blog! Your photos are stunning…and your choice in cookbook is amazing. Never been to Momofuku, but now I want to.

    Thanks! Hope you get a chance to hit up Momofuku soon!

    steph on April 16th, 2010 at 11:57 am
  3. Steamed eggs remind me of my childhood too! Your chawan mushi looks so smooth and silky, I’ve never tried making it at home before so I might give yours a go!

    Hope you have a chance to try it; let me know how it goes!

    steph on April 16th, 2010 at 11:57 am
  4. Chawan mushi is my favorite! This looks so beautiful. I just made my mom’s chawan mushi recipe but haven’t had a chance to post that yet. It’s not as pretty or fancy as yours but I can’t wait to try yours! :)

    Ooh, I can’t wait to see your post on your mom’s chawan mushi!

    steph on April 16th, 2010 at 11:58 am
  5. You wrote: Divide the egg mixture between 4 shallow 1-cup bowls. Top with the egg mixture and wrap each bowl in plastic.

    It looks like you are only cooking the egg mixture so these instructions are confusing. What are you topping the egg mixture on to if not the egg mixture itself?

    Sorry, fixed! It was a typo.

    steph on April 16th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Hey! The typo was NOT fixed. We all know the “extra”
    ingredients are in the cup FIRST, then the egg mixture
    on top!
    Suggestion: Like your idea to start with raw prawns. Cook gently till done, save the broth for daishi base. Add daishi no moto, soy sauce and mirin for a great broth.
    Suggestion2: Where’s the chicken? I debone chicken thigh, remove skin, cut into small 1/2-inch pieces. This insures thorough cooking.

    Martin Schwalbaum on February 20th, 2011 at 7:03 pm
  6. My favourite thing in the world (ok, one of…). So pretty! I have Chang’s recipe bookmarked too. “un-soy-sauce-savable” – brilliant! That should be the new ‘it’ foodie term!

    Hahaha, thanks Julia! They were some pretty horrible eggs. I’ve have so many experiments gone wrong in the kitchen!

    steph on April 18th, 2010 at 9:40 am
  7. May i know where to buy the dashi? (:

    Usually I just make the dashi, there are lots of recipes online. Otherwise, you can buy instant dashi powder at most Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

    steph on July 29th, 2010 at 10:40 am
  8. I can’t wait to try these! they look and sound divine. I love the dashi for umami, oyummy!!

    Dashi makes everything better! It’s the dashi that seasons the whole dish.

    steph on August 3rd, 2010 at 10:30 am
  9. I’m making my way through your archives (starting with the first post) and got to this one – I have a Taiwanese Do-Tong rice cooker, the kind where you put water in the pot with the rice, and on the outside the rice pot too.

    I generally beat the eggs in a bowl, add some salt and top off witch chicken broth, put it in with my rice on top of a separator-rack and push “On” … when the rice is done, the steamed egg is perfectly done also! And there must be some magic, because the egg has never been anything but perfectly smooth.

    I have never heard of that kind of rice cooker, but it sounds awesome if it makes rice and eggs at the same time!

    steph on September 19th, 2010 at 1:08 pm
  10. I love chawan mushi! My mom used to make it for us all the time, but for some reason she hasn’t made it recently. Thanks for reminding me to remind her to make some :]

  11. I modified both this and Chang’s recipes for Chawan Mushi to use the cashews, prawns, onion and shitake but also added finely slivered ham, which perfectly complements the dashi’s smokiness. And in my case, used an ancient but venerable Black & Decker electric food steamer with water added between the “Low” and “Medium” fill marks, at 17 minutes. Worked like a charm.

    Now this is a staple dish in our home for breakfast, lunch or tea, and consistently impresses guests. It’s also one of the only dishes my husband wants and will eat while ill, and nourishes healthfully. ;-)

  12. Hello! First time I stop by, but from the comments I’ll certainly come by often ;)

    I was intrigued as you said to put it straight away in the fridge (i guess for food safety reasons – any egg custard would need it…as ice cream!) and it’s always served hot in jap restaurants. how do you/your mother serve?

  13. 1

    I always love eating chawan-mushi. A simple dish but healthy and nourishing. My mother used to add some ‘ginang’ and salmon roes. Very divine, this is a dish that I refuse to share with others.

    Mira on August 14th, 2012 at 9:12 am
  14. I dont know wads is dash. Can any other ingredients be used?

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