Friday, February 22, 2013

Chawanmushi-Savory Egg Custard

Chawanmushi is a savory egg custard, "steamed in a tea cup". That's what chawanmushi means, literally. When I was growing up, my Japanese language skills hadn't progressed to the point of multiple meanings based on kanji, but consisted mostly at the level of baby talk. I knew an o-chawan was a rice bowl, and mushi meant bugs--so I thought chawanmushi meant--bowl of bugs!

I think you need to see this closer.

Chawanmushi is a savory egg custard with bits of meat and vegetables, made differently by season and by family. This one has shrimp, chicken, mushrooms, spinach and carrot, in an egg custard seasoned with dashi.

I got some new chawanmushi pots recently. Rick and Jessica got this same set for a wedding shower gift, and I told myself that when they went on sale I would treat myself. They are so pretty!


adapted from Japanese Cooking for Health & Fitness by Kiyoko Konishi


1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into small pieces and season with 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sake
5 to 10 medium shrimp
2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 package shimeji mushrooms, separated into pieces
1/2 small carrot
1/2 bunch fresh spinach
4 eggs
2 cups dashi mixed with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sake

You can use powdered dashi, or you can make your own by putting a large piece of dashi kombu into a pan of water, remove the kombu before it comes to a boil and remove from heat.

 Add 1/2 cup dried bonito flakes and let steep until cool, about 30 minutes. Then strain through a fine-meshed strainer and discard pulp.

Slice a carrot and cut into shapes using a shape tool. Then blanch the spinach, squeeze out excess water and cut into 1-inch lengths.

 Crack 4 eggs into a bowl mixing gently, but do not beat air into them. Add dashi stock mixed with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sake. Mix, then strain through a fine-meshed strainer to remove the slippery part of the egg white.

 Place into each bowl, shiitake and shimeji mushrooms, 1 or 2 shrimp, 2 seasoned chicken chunks, spinach and carrot flower.

 Fill about 2/3 with egg mixture, leaving some of the ingredients exposed.

 Boil water in a large pot. Turn off to add chawanmushi pots, then cover and simmer on lowest heat setting for 20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or custard is set.

 You can also cook them in the oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF, place chawanmushi into a roasting pan,

 Cover the pots,

 Place into the oven and fill the pan about half-way up the chawanmushi pots with boiling water. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

 Some people put slices of kamaboko into their chawanmushi. You can use whatever you like or whatever you have on hand.

I think it might be good with bacon.



This is my son, Rick.

If you saw the Italian Wedding Soup post, you know he and Jessica got engaged.

They are now married!

It was a beautiful day!

Most of these photos were taken by others. I had given my camera to my niece Connie and she passed it off to nephew Garrett at the reception. My appreciation goes out to them and also niece Kelly and cousin David for shooting video of the ceremony and reception. Without all of you, I would have no media to pour over and relive these special moments. Thank you all for so generously giving your time and talents.

 Rick hasn't been a dancer, but has become one, with Jessica. I was wonderfully surprised and seeing this photo brings a tear to my eye.

 Jessica's mother, Elyse, decorated the wedding. Jessica wanted a winter wedding with a forest theme. Elyse and her crew decorated the ranch beautifully.

 Remember Bachan's Cheese Macaroni? This is Obaachan with Rick, Karen and baby Rachel. Bachan's got a new look, pretty, isn't it!

You met Rachel in my Cheese Straws post. She's growing fast!

 Elyse added beautiful touches to the ranch, with lots of pine branches and pine cones. When we put out the call to our friends and family for pine cones, we were amazed at all the boxes of them that came in. Thanks, everyone!

This is the area where appetizers will be served during the cocktail hour, while the bridal party is being photographed.

 This pretty area is where guests dropped off their gifts.

The rustic furniture Elyse brought in perfectly matched the charm of the ranch. The windows and accessories added touches of elegance throughout.

 After Rick and Jessica said their vows, they put them in this time capsule and nailed it shut, to be opened sometime in the future.

 This is the entrance to the big barn where the reception was held. Guests found their table seating here.

Nancy was in charge of the place cards. She had birch branches cut in half and a slit sawed into them to organize & display the place cards.
 Table favors were these pine tree seedlings, the wrapping also designed by Nancy. Ours are planted in our yard, it will be fun to watch them grow.

Thank you to cousin Tim for use of his photos. Remember Tim? He made Chile Relleno.

Elyse comes from a family of painters and brought several paintings to decorate the ranch. Jessica and her brother paint also. This picture was taken the day before the wedding, before the final touches of flowers and pine greenery were added to the tables. The little ceramic love birds on the tables added a sweet touch.

The finished table-scapes were beautiful!

That's me, with my parents and my sister. The wedding venue, Hurst Ranch, is a special place to our family. My dad has been growing vegetables there for the past 40 years, and was a friend of Joe Hurst. All the grandkids have grown up going to help Grandpa harvest and grow vegetables and melons.

Congratulations to the newlyweds, Rick and Jessica!



adapted from Japanese Cooking for Health & Fitness by Kiyoko Konishi


1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sake
5 to 10 medium shrimp
2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 package shimeji mushrooms, separated into pieces
1/2 small carrot
1/2 bunch fresh spinach
4 eggs
2 cups dashi mixed with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sake

1. Put 2 cups water into a saucepan with a 4-inch piece of dashi kombu. Just before water boils, turn off heat and remove kombu. Add 1/2 cup dried bonito flakes and let steep until cool. Drain through fine-meshed strainer. OR, use powdered dashi stock, following package directions. Chicken broth may also be substituted. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce & 1 tablespoon sake to 2 cups dashi or broth.

2. Cut chicken into 1 inch squares. Put into small bowl and season with 1 teaspoon each, soy sauce and sake.

3. Peel and clean shrimp, peel carrot, slice and cut into flower shapes. Blanch spinach & squeeze out excess water, then cut into 1-inch lengths. Remove mushroom stems and slice shiitake thinly, separate shimeji.

4. Mix eggs well, but do not beat. Stir broth into eggs, then strain through a fine-meshed strainer to remove slippery substance from egg white.

5. Fill chawanmushi pots with ingredients, placing the colorful shrimp, spinach and carrot on top. Add the egg mixture, not covering some of the ingredients and cover. Use foil if necessary.

6. Boil about 3 cups of water in a large pot. Turn off heat and add covered chawanmushi cups. Water should be about 1/3 of the way up cups. Turn heat to lowest setting, place the lid on the pot allowing a little steam to escape. Simmer for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. The chawanmushi may also be cooked in the oven in a water bath at 350ºF for 20 minutes.


  1. Beautiful wedding! I love the birch place card holders!

  2. Wow your chawanmushi looks amazing! I love how many ingredients you have in yours, they all lend a beautiful texture and color to the finished product, especially the shimeji mushrooms sticking up. Some can look so boring, with the finished product a flat yellow with only a single mushroom or kamaboko protruding. Yours are dynamic!

  3. Good day,

    Great post ! and great site

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  4. Thank you for sharing your egg custard recipe and your family photos! I enjoyed both. Egg custard is something different and I will have to try it definitely. Wedding photos are lovely. Wedding decorations are great, warm and inviting. Wishing the best to the new family :)

  5. I love your blog. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your family with us. You've taught me a lot about Japanese cooking, something I really should know (but don't). Aloha!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Your photos look great...Does this recipe serve 4,5 or 6? The photos show different number of bowls. Hoping to try this very soon, would appreciate clarification.

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