Literally translated to "steamed in a tea bowl," chawanmushi is a traditional, silky-smooth Japanese egg custard made of dashi thickened with eggs. One of the few Japanese dishes eaten with a spoon, chawanmushi is a dish served as part of a larger meal. Here, chunks of chicken, shrimp and shiitake mushroom, seasoned with soy sauce, are dispersed throughout, providing contrast to the smooth texture of the custard.
The mitsuba leaves that garnish the custard add brightness and a carrot-like sweetness. While you can find them at any Japanese market, feel free to substitute parsley. When you bake your custard, fill the baking dish with boiling water. That way, when you put it in the oven, the water will begin to steam the custard immediately.
To learn more, read "Tokyo Drift."
Chawanmushi (Japanese Dashi Egg Custard)
Recipe adapted from Masaji Sakai and Mayumi Hijikata, Marukin, Portland, OR
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes, plus resting time
1½ cups dashi
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into ½-inch cubes
4 medium (2 ounces) peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Mitsuba or parsley leaves, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350° and arrange four 8-ounce ovenproof ramekins or bowls in an 8-inch square baking dish filled with 1 inch of boiling water.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dashi, eggs and salt until smooth, then strain into a clean bowl. In another bowl, coat the chicken, shrimp and mushrooms with the soy sauce.
3. Divide the chicken, shrimp and mushrooms between the ramekins, adding a few pieces of all three to each. Pour the dashi mixture over top, dividing it equally among the 4 ramekins.
4. Bake until the custards are just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the water bath and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with whole mitsuba leaves and serve.