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茶碗蒸し aka Steamed Egg Custard

Through a bit of online research, I have discovered that this type of egg custard is typically served as an appetizer in restaurants in Japan. From what I have read it is a classic Japanese dish, but most likely Chinese in origin. Though I have never made a Japanese egg custard, I have made something similar based off of a Korean recipe.

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I think one of the reasons it is so popular is because you can add almost anything you want into the custard. Though this recipe is simple, and only uses a few vegetables, I have seen recipes which use many kinds of shellfish and other types of vegetables. The majority of the English recipes I found were based off of David Chang’s recipe from Momofuku, which I believe increased the recipe’s popularity in the US. Today’s recipe is from Kurihara Harumi’s Everyday Harumi, which is probably infinitely more famous in Japan than Chang and his recipe is here.

One of the key elements in this dish is だし, or Dashi, a stock made from kelp and fish flakes. Dashi is a key element of many Japanese recipes, and thus should be taken seriously… However, the pronunciation is the same as the Korean word 다시 (dashi) which means “again.” I have known the Korean word longer than the Japanese word, and every time I hear or say the Japanese version I start giggling (at least in my head). It is the same situation as the Japanese word 主に(omoni)meaning “mainly, particularly” and the Korean word 엄머니 (omoni) meaning “mother.” I think my Japanese teacher might think I am crazy because I smile every time she says it.

Today’s recipe’s song…has nothing to do with anything… I just like the song and wanted to share it with everyone. Click the link to listen to “고장난 소년” by 핸섬피플, or “The Broken Boy” by Handsome People.

As for the recipe, it was a two part process, as I made the Dashi stock earlier in the day, and then finished the custards in the evening.

First, I soaked the kelp in some water for 30 minutes and measured out my fish flakes.

 

 

When the kelp had finished soaking, the stock got boiled and within 5 minutes was completed!

 

Later, I chopped up all the vegetables and divided them into 4 bowls. The original recipe didn’t call for tomatoes, but I like the combination of tomatoes and eggs so I threw them in too.

 

Then, an egg-dashi mixture was added to the bowls.

 

Finally, the custards were steamed and ready to eat!

 

茶碗蒸し aka Steamed Egg Custard
(発音:ちゃわんむし)

For the Custard:
4 eggs
2 ½ cups dashi stock (see below)
1 tsp soy sauce
1 ½ T mirin
a pinch of salt
½ cup snow peas, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
8 cherry tomatoes, halved

For the Sauce:

1 cup dashi stock (see below)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 T mirin
2 tsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tsp cold water to make a slurry

Directions:

1) Whisk eggs together and slowly add dashi stock. Use a fine sieve to strain the mixture into a bowl.
2) Add soy sauce, mirin and salt, mixing to combine.
3) Divide peas and carrots between four equal sized bowls, and pour egg mixture equally into each.
4) Bring a small amount of water in a steamer or large saucepan to a boil.
5) Cover bowls with cling wrap and place in steamer or pan. Steam for about 20 minutes, or until set, over low heat.
6) Sauce: Place dashi stock in a saucepan, add soy sauce and mirin, stirring to combine.
7) Bring sauce to a boil and add slurry.
8) When custards are cooked, remove from steamer and take off cling wrap. Pour some sauce over the top and serve.

だし (Dashi Stock)

1 piece of 昆布(こんぶ) (dried kelp)
¼- ½ cup 鰹節 (かつおぶし)(dried fish flakes)
4 cups of water

Directions:
1) Place water in a saucepan, add kelp and let sit for 30 minutes.
2) Put saucepan over high heat, and remove kelp just before the water boils.
3) When the water boils, add fish flakes. Return to a boil and immediately turn off the heat.
4) Let the stock stand until all the fish flakes have sunk to the bottom of the pan.
5) Pour the mixture through a strainer lined with paper towel.
6) Leave the mixture to cool, then keep stock in the refrigerator until ready to use.

My Thoughts:
• The texture turned out really smooth, and it was interesting to eat.
• I didn’t grow up eating these kinds of flavors—such as the fish flakes or the kelp—and I would have to say my palate is still adjusting to them. I really love eating a few bites, but I couldn’t eat this alone or a lot of it without adding some other type of seasoning. That is not to say I dislike it though, and I will probably love it within a few months. This happened the first several times I tried to drink Bubble Tea… and now I can hardly live without it 😛
• I would like to make this again and add some sort of protein, or maybe mushrooms… the vegetables all stratified, but I wouldn’t necessarily want more of each of those ingredients. I think the solution is to have a little bit of a few more ingredients, and/or use smaller containers so there is less egg-to-other-ingredient ratio.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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3 Comments

  1. Nice job! Chawa-mushi is something I’ve never tried to make, but now maybe I will. I’m fairly certain that tomatoes are something original that you can take credit for, especially if you like the way it tasted in the end. Next time you make this, try adding a little “ginnan” or Ginko nut (?) at the bottom, if you can find this in the US. It gives a bitter taste that offsets the mildness of the dashi and egg custard.

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