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What is Chawan Mushi (茶碗蒸し)?
Have you heard of Chawan Mushi, Japan’s savory egg custard dish?
Typically served piping hot in a small lidded bowl, Chawan Mushi is soft, juicy, and packed with flavor. Colorful toppings give this dish a lively appearance, while morsels underneath the surface act as little surprises waiting to accompany each bite.
(A bit of Japanese: chawan means bowl/ teacup and mushi means steamed!)
You can order Chawan Mushi at traditional Japanese restaurants including izakayas and sushi shops.
After realizing that it takes only a few simple ingredients to prepare, I decided to try and make it for myself!
Bear in mind that this dish is a bit impractical if you are solely looking for something quick and filling as Chawan Mushi is a small side dish meant to be eaten with a larger meal.
For those looking to experience a bit of Japanese food and culture, try making Chawan Mushi yourself!
For one serving, you only need a tiny amount of each ingredient. (This is where making Chawan Mushi isn’t very time or resource efficient, unless you have these ingredients laying around and need a way to use them up!)
- 1 large Egg
- Dashi stock (room temperature) – Make your own or use instant powders mixed with water
Feel free to play and experiment with the fillings you include. This list is meant as inspiration, as you can add a wide variety of ingredients inside.
- Chicken / Shrimp – If you use raw ingredients, make sure to cut them into very small pieces so they cook thoroughly.
- Mushrooms – I used dried shiitake mushrooms. (These need to be rehydrated in water before using).
- Gingko Nuts – A common Chawan Mushi filling, but I haven’t used them myself yet.
Feel free to play around with the toppings too! Use an assortment of colorful ingredients for added visual appeal.
- Kamaboko– Kamaboko is a type of fish cake that comes in small logs that are usually pink and white. I used a special decorative version called narutomaki, that has a beautiful swirl pattern. Slice the kamaboko.
- Carrot – Slice (and cut into shapes if you’re fancy!)
- Edamame (soybeans) – Shelled
- Sprouts / Green Onion / Wilted Spinach – For garnish
While not mandatory, if you can get your hands on these materials, they will help you make the best Chawan Mushi!
Used to remove extra bubbles and lumps from the egg mixture. This will give your Chawan Mushi the soft and silky texture it is known for.
Itaki Shabuki Pot /Large Pot
Since I am living in a small Japanese apartment, the only pot I have is the Itaki Shabuki Pot. My goal was to see if I could make Chawan Mushi using just this appliance.
Because the Shabuki Pot is a bit small, I could only make one serving at a time. This works if you are cooking for one, but I recommend using a larger pot if you are making multiple bowls at a time.
Feel free to use any other type of pot as long as it can be covered and fits your bowl(s).
Small Ceramic Bowl with Lid
Chawan Mushi is traditionally served in a small ceramic bowl. Both beautiful and practical, the ceramic can withstand high temperatures and the lid keeps water from dripping into the egg during the steaming process.
I spent a lot of time looking for this type of ceramic ware and was surprised that it was quite difficult to find.
If you don’t have a ceramic bowl with a lid, you can use a ceramic ramekin topped with foil or plastic wrap.
Make your Chawan Mushi extra fancy with a few simple shape cutters! I found this set at Daiso for ¥110. The fun shapes add a playful touch to the finished dish and are easy to use on sliced ingredients like carrots.
Used to mix the egg and dashi together. You will want to avoid using a whisk or fork to mix as these will create unwanted air bubbles.
The classic Chawan Mushi spoon is wooden and very small. If you don’t have one of these, of course any spoon will do!
How to Prepare Chawan Mushi
Crack the egg and measure its volume. (My egg was 50 ml).
Measure out the dashi to be 3x your egg’s volume. (In my case, 150ml of dashi). Once the dashi stock is room temperature, (otherwise it will start to cook your egg) add it to the cracked egg.
Use a chopstick to “loosen” the egg and gently mix it with the dashi stock. Try to avoid vigorously mixing as this will introduce more air bubbles.
Strain the mix to remove any egg lumps.
Put the fillings (chicken and mushroom) into the bottom of the bowl. If you have raw ingredients (like chicken), put them in a single layer at the bottom. Avoid adding too much to allow for adequate cooking.
Pour in the strained egg mixture. Make sure to leave a bit of room at the top of the bowl as the egg will expand as it cooks. Cover with the lid or plastic wrap/ foil.
Fill the Shabuki Pot (or preferred pot) with water so it will come up 1/3 of the bowl’s height. Heat to a boil.
Once boiling, place the covered bowl in and cook for 3 minutes on high heat.
Lower the heat and cook for 5 more minutes.
By now the Chawan Mushi should have set enough to add the toppings. (If not let it cook for another minute).
After adding the toppings, re-cover and cook for a final 5 minutes on low heat
Turn off the heat and carefully remove the Chawan Mushi from the pot. Be careful of the steam!
To check if the Chawan Mushi is done, tilt the bowl a bit to see the liquid. If it is clear, it’s ready to eat! If not, continue cooking until the liquids are clear.
Enjoy your hot, fresh Chawan Mushi!
Chawan Mushi is made of simple ingredients, but it’s a great dish that is full of flavor. After finishing one bowl, I almost always want to have another.
The most important part of making Chawan Mushi is the ratio between the egg and dashi. (1:3), so don’t forget!
I hope you found this recipe helpful and good luck on your cooking adventure!
If you are looking for more about Japanese food and cooking, be sure to check out these blog posts!
- Shabu Shabu Hot Pot for One: Cooking with the Itaki Shabuki Pot – Enjoying a night of Shabu Shabu with the Shabuki Pot!
- How to Make Umeshu (梅酒, Plum Wine) – Umeshu is a sweet and refreshing Plum Wine that only requires three ingredients to make!
- Karato Seafood Market & Fugu: the Deadly Delicacy – Lots of seafood to try at Karato Seafood Market in Shimonoseki, Japan.