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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

CHAWAN-MUSHI (Custard Steamed in a Tea Bowl)

[From April Issue 2010]

Ingredients [Serves 2]

  • 1 pc (40g) sasami (white chicken meat)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp sake
  • 2 mid-size prawns
  • 1/2 tsp sake
  • 1/4 pkg (30g) shimeji mushrooms
  • 2 sprigs mitsuba (honeywort)

Egg liquid

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups dashi (see below)
  • 2 cups water (to be boiled down to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 5 x 10cm long kelp slices
  • 1/2 cup shaved dried bonito
  • (A) 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mirin cooking sake
  • 2 or 3 drops soy sauce

Tips on Making Smooth Chawan-Mushi

For a smooth taste keep the ratio of eggs to stock at 1:3. Since eggs solidify at 80℃, keep the steamer temperature between 80 ~ 90℃, but pay attention. Continuous steaming over a high flame will result in air-bubbles. (“su ga tatsu” in Japanese.)

  1. Leave the kelp unwashed as the white surface powder adds flavoring. Clean with a dry cloth then let soak in (2 cups) of water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat all the above over a low flame removing the kelp just before it boils. Add shaved, dried bonito, bring to a boil, and then turn off heat. Let cool for a minute or two, then strain stock through a damp, tightly wrung out dishcloth or paper towel.
  3. With stock still warm (approx. 60℃, the temperature of lukewarm tea), add (A) salt, mirin cooking sake and soy sauce.
  4. Remove prawns from shells leaving only the tails intact. Devein then pour sake.
  5. Strip the sasami (white chicken meat) of any bones or cartilage then cut into 4 pieces by sogi-giri (long, thin diagonal cuts). Season with salt and sake.
  6. After removing the hard tips from the shimeji mushroom, divide them into small amounts. Similarly divide the stems and the leaves of the mitsuba (honeywort). Slice the stems into 2-to-3 cm lengths.
  7. Break the eggs but do not beat them. Add them to no. 3 above, then strain.
  8. Put all ingredients except for mitsuba into tea bowls then slowly pour in the egg mix, careful to avoid any air bubbles.
  9. Put water in steamer and heat over a high flame. When steam occurs, place the tea bowls inside.
  10. Steam over high flame for 3 minutes. When the surfaces turn whitish, lower the flame and continue steaming for another 12 to 13 minutes.
  11. Poke a bamboo skewer into a tea bowl, to see if the soup is still clear – if so, stop steaming.
  12. Turn off heat, then place mitsuba on element and continue steaming with the remaining heat for about a minute.
  13. Remove tea bowls from steamer and cover with lids. You are now ready to serve.


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