Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chawanmushi

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Pardon me if the picture looks abit erm.. unappetising. I think I added too much Shimeiji mushrooms, thus the top is abit watery and the egg custard sort of break up. This is another well-liked Japanese dish. Who doesn't like a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth egg custard that glides down your throat? During my stint as a waitress at a Japanese restaurant during my school days, this was and still is a very popular dish. Mommies will almost always order 1 for their children.

The art of Japanese cooking is not about using fancy ingredients like foie gras, truffle or wagyu, nor following tedious steps 1 to 15 or murdering torturing the same piece of meat over and over again. It's about simplicity. Using the simplest ingredient and make it shine through. It's about harmony and balance. Ingredients should compliment each other. Your pride. The way you present your food; a gastronomic and visual feast. And most importantly, the essence; your heart. It's how you do it and if you put in effort to do it. You might say, this is just an ordinary egg custard, what's the big deal? I'm sure most of those who have attempted to make Chawanmushi would agree with me if I answer, 'The simpler it is, the harder to master'. I remembered I had to eat loads of egg custards just to get the texture I like (read : no bubbles, no holes, not too watery, not too hard). Simple, you say? Try it!

Included this on last Saturday's menu because 1) Ah Girl loves it, 2) my friend, J, who is in Down Under asked me for the recipe. Actually, it's for her husband, so that he could cook her some. Lucky girl you!

Chawanmushi 茶碗蒸 し (serves 4)
Ingredients
Custard Base
3 Eggs
420ml Chicken Stock or 2nd Dashi Stock (recipe for Dashi Stock here)
1 Tsp Sake (can be omitted if preferred)
1 Tsp Sugar (can be omitted if preferred)

Some salt to taste

Toppings
Some Chicken Fillet (a few pieces for each serving will do, marinate with some salt and pepper for 1/2 hour prior)
Some Shimeiji Mushroom (or Shiitake Mushroom, sliced)
8 to 12 slices of Kamaboko (Japanese Fish Cake, can be omitted if preferred)

Method
1) In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly, not too hard, else there will be alot of bubbles. Pour in the stock and add in the seasonings, stir well.

2) Sieve the mixture (this will give the eggs a smoother texture) and pour into individual cups. Steam the eggs in low heat, leaving the lid slightly open. Should take about 10 to 15 mins to set at 80%. For visual effect, put in the chicken pieces, mushrooms and fish cake at this point. Steam for another 7 to 10 mins, depending on the heat control.

*Note : If you don't really care about presentation, just dump in all the toppings to the egg mixture and steam for 15 to 20 mins or until set. Besides those mentioned above, you can add prawns, ginko nuts, etc., to the custard.

**Note : If you are not adding any toppings, which is fine, increase the stock to 450ml. Reason : during steaming/cooking, the toppings will give out water. For Chawanmushi, rule of thumb is 1 egg : 150ml of liquid.

***Note : If you are using water instead of stock, add 2 tsp of light soy sauce to the mixture.

****Note : You can cover the cups with aluminium foil or cling wrap to avoid water droplets dripping onto the custard (read : smooth surface). However, I didn't do this but managed to achieve smooth tops before. If you have it, using a bamboo steamer also helps. But most importantly, the water in the steamer should not be boiling or you will get holes in your Chawanmushi. Therefore, must 看火,控制火候 (loosely translated : watch the temperature control).

Happy cooking!~ それじゃ~~

*Update : I forgot to add; if you are using dashi stock powder/granules, add about 1 tsp to the water.

3 comments:

Yuri said...

Hey Rei, thanks for this recipe. Guess I could adapt my steamed egg recipe to make chawanmushi :)

Will you be posting the daikon recipe? Also, I bought one piece of "konnyaku" but don't know how to cook it. Can be "braised" right? Thanks in advance.

Rei said...

Yuri : No worries, I'll put it the recipe for daikon-ni soon. You can braise the konnyaku with the daikon.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

i like my chawan mushi plain with gingko nuts :0