[Recipe] Chawanmushi : Japanese Steamed Egg Custard

Hazy weather has gotten us all heaty and exasperated. As what TCM advises us on ways to beat the haze, we should try to drink more water and consume light meals so that we do not fall into the hands of the hazardous air and dry climate. And because of all that, we are made to stay indoors as much as possible, so what’s better than cooking up a storm in the kitchen since there are so much time available at home ! A good time for me to catch up on my beauty sleep too !! So I totally don’t mind the extra time indoors ! Hahaha !! ^-^

And I attempted a Japanese Steamed Egg Custard, commonly known as the Chawanmushi ! A dish that I am bound to order whenever I dine at any Japanese restaurants. A light and healthy choice which makes a perfect appetizer for any meal. As I always reinterated, whenever I try to mimick any restaurant cuisine, I tend to modify it to my own delights. That’s the beauty of any home-cooked food.


For example, there’s always gingko nuts and fishcakes in the chawanmushi from the restaurants which I always frown upon, so I gonna eliminate all these from my own version and replace them with my favourites, such as fresh prawns, fish slices and mushrooms instead.


Hon-dashi is made from dried bonito flakes and dried seaweed which is a kind of cooking stock that Japanese chefs use in almost every cuisine. From miso soup, clear broth to tempura sauce, hon-dashi goes well with almost anything and made an essential ingredient in chawanmushi too !


Here’s how hon-dashi looks like. Add it to boiling water to dissolve it. You could also add a small  amount of water and place it in a microwave oven on high for 10 seconds. Stirred well to dissolve it completely. This forms the bonito stock for chawanmushi.


For every kind of steamed egg, be it the Asian or Japanese kind, the amount of water is always double in proportion to the volume of the egg. This is almost like the rule of thumb for all kinds of steamed egg. In the olden days when measuring cups were not in demand, we would use two glass cups as below method to measure the volume of water required. As you can see, the water level is somewhat twice that of the egg level.


Combine the egg mixture, water, the hon-dashi stock and the rest of the seasoning and mix well. Take care not to overbeat the egg mixture till foamy, otherwise the egg custard will not be smooth.

Recognising that the Panasonic rice-cooker has a steam function and an electronic timer, I decide to utilise that. By adding some water to the rice cooker and covering the chawamushi cups with cling film so that excess steam vapour does not drip into the egg custard, chawanmushi is ready to be steamed !


Now here’s a trick. How to allow the fillings such as prawns and mushrooms to stay suspended on top of the egg custard instead of them sinking to the bottom while steaming ?

~ Separate the steam sessions twice.

Fillings like the chicken meat and fish slices which I much prefer them to be at the bottom, I had them placed into the tea cups first, together with 70% of the egg mixture and had it steamed for 7 minutes.


After the first round of steaming is done, add in the prawns and mushrooms and top it up with the balance egg mixture and steam for a further 5 minutes or until the egg custard is done, when it’s still a little wobbly at the centre.


Here’s another hint : Do remember to pat dry all fillings with a paper towel before steaming, to eliminate the excess water in the egg custard to ensure that the chawanmushi stays firm and thick. It’s our desire to be eating chawanmushi and not drinking it, don’t we ?


Now you can have restaurant style chawanmushi at home at a fraction of the price you would have to pay for if you dine there. So when life gives you eggs, have a chawanmushi !


Sip your egg custard away ! It’s that smooth, rich and custardly. Would you love to have it as an appetiser or an after-meal hot dessert ? I certainly won’t mind for either or both will do just fine ! ^-^


Below recipe to share !!! And yes, last 2 days before the voting ends !! Do help to vote generously for Eat What Tonight at the following awards nominations if you have that bit of time to spare !! Thanks a billion, folks !!

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Chawanmushi : Japanese Steamed Egg Custard

By Eat What Tonight Published: June 22, 2013

  • Yield: 4-5 Servings

Hazy weather has gotten us all heaty and exasperated. As what TCM advises us on ways to beat the haze, we should try to drink more …



  1. Add hon-dashi to the boiling water and stirred to dissolve completely.
  2. Combine eggs, water, ho-dashi stock from step 1 and soy sauce. Do not overbeat.
  3. Blanch chicken meat and fish slices over boiling water.
  4. Rub prawns with a dash of salt and potato starch flour.
  5. Place chicken and fish onto bottom of chawanmushi tea cups and fill the cups with 70% of the egg mixture.
  6. Cover tea cups with cling wrap before placing them in rice cooker on steam mode for 7 minutes.
  7. Remove tea cups and place prawns and mushrooms on top of the egg custard and add the balance egg mixture.
  8. Steam for a further 5 minutes or until cooked and serve.

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