One of the most delicious hot appetizer custard dishes of Japan is “Chawanmushi.” This appetizer is a combination of egg, fish cake, shrimp, Shiitake mushrooms, and seasonable vegetables. The dish is similar to traditional egg custard but with a unique taste imparted by the use of “Katsuo Dashi,” a Japanese bonito fish soup stock, Soy sauce and Mirin, a rice based cooking wine used in preparation of the sauce. “Chawanmushi” is found in many restaurants and is considered a stable dish in many Japanese homes. “Chawan” means rice bowl and “mushi” means steamed. It is simple to cook, and the texture is similar to egg flan. In Autumn, you want to make “Chawanmushi” following the Japanese traditional custom, add Ginkgo seed, which we called “Ginnan.” Many households have unique “Chawanmushi,” recipes using seasonal ingredients and sauce variations. Chicken substituted for shrimp, and “Shiitake juice,” mushroom juice, instead of “Katsuo Dashi,” makes a soft, mild and delicious custard recipe.
To prepare “Chawanmushi,”
1. Mix eggs and Soy sauce, Mirin, and Dashi together in a large bowl.
2. Strain the egg mixture.
3. Combine shrimp, mushrooms, fish cake and Ginnan.
4. Pour egg mixture into a cup or a small bowl and combine with other ingredients.
5. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and steam at medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes.
6. Test for taste, add “Mitsuba” green for garnish. To add more texture and flavor, increase the amount of mushrooms, shrimp, and fish cake.
“Udon,” noodles, called “Odamakimushi,” are used in some recipes. Restaurants add green vegetables such as “Mitsuba,” boiled red shrimp or some colorful fish cakes to garnish it.
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