Chawanmushi 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Apr 16, 2014

Judicious amounts of shrimp, mushrooms and diced chicken are hidden under a delicate, savory custard here.

The recipe calls for dashi, a broth typically made with kombu seaweed and bonito flakes that's usually available in the Asian section of larger grocery stores.

You'll need four 6-ounce ramekins and a steamer basket large enough to hold them.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 2 ounces chicken thigh or breast meat, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce, preferably a light-colored Japanese usukuchi shoyu
  • 4 small or 2 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, halved horizontally if large
  • A few mushroom pieces for each serving, such as enoki, maitake or shiitake, cut into bite-size pieces as needed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought dashi (see headnote and related recipe at
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 scallion, sliced thin on the diagonal, or 4 small watercress sprigs, for garnish
  • Grated lemon zest, for garnish (optional)

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Combine the diced chicken with the sake and 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce in a small bowl; marinate for 15 minutes, then drain.

Divide the chicken, shrimp and mushrooms among the ramekins, creating small piles at the bottom of each one.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the dashi, the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, the mirin and salt; stir to incorporate. Divide evenly among the ramekins. Cover each ramekin tightly with aluminum foil.

Place a rack or steamer basket in a pot large enough to hold all four ramekins. Pour in enough water to just reach the bottom of the rack or basket. Bring it to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium or as needed so the water is barely bubbling. Cover and cook/steam for 15 to 17 minutes, until the custards are set yet still jiggly. The shrimp and chicken should be cooked through.

Carefully remove the foil from the ramekins. Garnish each with the scallions or watercress. Re-cover the pot; cook/steam for about 1 minute, or just until the garnish has wilted a bit.

Discard the foil. Place the ramekins on individual plates. Sprinkle a little lemon zest on each chawanmushi, if desired. Serve immediately.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient," by Michael Ruhlman (Little, Brown and Co., 2014).

Tested by Amy C. Kim.

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