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Chawanmushi with Shrimp

Chawanmushi is a savory egg custard dish, which served as an appetizer in Japanese restaurants. It literary means ‘steamed in a tea bowl/cup’. Chawan in Japanese means tea bowl or bowl, and -Mushi means steamed.

    ▢2 dried shiitake mushrooms
    ▢3 Tbsp water (for hydrating dried shiitake mushrooms)
    ▢½ boneless, skinless chicken thigh (cut into small pieces, soak in 1 Tbsp sake to get rid of the unwanted smell)
    ▢shrimp (peeled, deveined, soak in 1 Tbsp sake to get rid of the unwanted smell)
    ▢4 mitsuba (Japanese parsley) (or you can use scallion/green onion)
    ▢4 ginkgo nuts (pre-cooked; optional)
    ▢½ package shimeji mushrooms (1.8 oz, 50 g)
    ▢4 slices kamaboko (fish cake)
  • For Egg Custard Mixture
    ▢1 large egg (50 g w/o shell)
    ▢½ tsp mirin
    ▢½ tsp usukuchi (light-colored) soy sauce (I use light-color soy sauce so the egg mixture will not become too dark)
    ▢¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
    ▢½ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock; click to learn more)
  • For Optional Toppings
    ▢2 pieces uni (sea urchin)
    ▢2 Tbsp ikura (salmon roe)


  • Gather all the ingredients. Feel free to replace ingredients with any seasonal ingredients.

To Prepare the Ingredients

  • In a small bowl, put 2 dried shiitake and 3 Tbsp water and rehydrate for 15 minutes. When shiitake becomes soft, squeeze water out and slice them thinly. Tip: This liquid is shiitake dashi. If you want to use this shiitake dashi as a part of your ½ cup dashi in this recipe. To do that, strain shiitake dashi (to remove any impurities), and add dashi till you get ½ cup total.
  • Make a knot with mitsuba (if you have it). Divide all the ingredients into 2 cups. I start with chicken, shiitake, ginkgo nuts, and shimeji. Then put kamaboko, shrimp, and mitsuba on top (the colorful ingredients should be at the top).

To Make Egg Custard Mixture

  • Whisk the egg in a medium bowl. Add mirin, soy sauce, salt, and ½ cup dashi. Mix well together.
  • Then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl. This helps making a silky texture.
  • Pour the egg custard mixture into the prepared cups. Instead of covering the ingredients completely with egg, leave some ingredients exposed so chawanmushi will look nice. Remove any air bubbles with a spoon or bamboo skewer. Put the chawanmushi lid on (or tightly cover with foil).

To Cook Chawanmushi

  • Prepare a pot and lid that fits your chawanmushi cups. Add water that covers half of the chawanmush cups. Bring it to a boil and once boiling, reduce the heat to the LOWEST setting. Gently place the chawanmushi cups inside the hot water (it should not be boiling) and cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 25-30 minutes on the lowest heat. If you are not adding shrimp and/or chicken, the cooking time should only be 15-20 minutes. Insert a skewer in the center of the custard and see if the egg is done. If clear liquid comes out, it’s done.

To Serve
Serve warm with uni and ikura on the side (optional). Place them on top right before you eat.

To Store
You can keep the leftovers in a chawanmushi cup and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, steam for 2 minutes.

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