Cross Cultural Comfort Food

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    NEWSLETTERS

    What Chawan Mushi prepared properly should look like.

    I didn’t grow up eating chawan mushi, but it feels like comfort food. An egg-based custard dish, it’s simply flavored with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi and mixed with a few ingredients before being set to steam.

    It’s usually eaten as an appetizer in Japanese cuisine but I like to eat it as a snack too.

    Chawan mushi literally translates as “tea cup steam” or “steamed in a tea bowl,” and I use a set of ceramic antique teacups to cook these in. Alternatively, you can use small ceramic ramekins.

    It can be eaten hot or cold; I prefer it warm.

    Ingredients:

    3 cups cold water
    1 8-by 4-inch piece kombu (dried kelp)
    1 package katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), about 1/2 cup
    3 eggs
    1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3 small fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
    6 medium shrimp, peeled1 green onion, thinly sliced

    1. Bring cold water and kombu to a boil in a saucepan, then remove from heat and discard kombu. Sprinkle katsuobushi over liquid and let stand 3 minutes. Pour through a sieve and strain into a bowl.

    2. Whisk together eggs in a bowl, then whisk in mirin, soy sauce, salt, and 1 1/2 cups dashi.

    3. Divide sliced mushrooms, shrimp and green onions among ramekins. Divide egg mixture among ramekins and cover each ramekin with a piece of foil.

    4. Arrange ramekins on rack of a steamer and add enough water to steamer to measure 1 1/2 inches. Cover steamer and bring to boil over high heat. Steam 2 minutes, reduce heat to medium and continue to steam until custards are just set, about 10 minutes more. Serve in ramekins.

    Mariam Hosseini is a Bay Area native who has been writing about food and travel for six years.  She blogs regularly at yogurtsoda.com.