Chawanmushi is a traditional Japanese appetiser made from a savoury egg custard that has been steamed. It literally means tea cup steam or steamed in a tea bowl. Chawan means tea cup or rice bowl and mushi means steamed in Japanese, and it is indeed steamed food in a cup.
Chawanmushi’s flavour comes mainly from Dashi, soy sauce and mirin, and even though it is a savoury dish, the texture is similar to egg flan. The custard consists of an egg mixture flavored with soy sauce, dashi, and mirin, with numerous traditional ingredients such as shiitake mushrooms, kamaboko, yuri-ne (lily root) and boiled shrimp placed into a tea-cup-like container.
It is popularly made with a variety of extra fillings such as prawns, ginkgo nuts, kamaboko steamed fish cake, shiitake mushrooms and spring onions. A chawan is an authentic Japanese tea cup which chawanmushi is usually served in. Chawanmushi can be eaten either hot or cold.
Chawanmushi is one of the few Japanese dishes eaten with both chopsticks and a spoon. Even though the egg completely sets in steaming, the stock and juices released from various ingredients make the dish a little soupy. In fact, this dish is regarded by many as a soup and is often served as a soup course. In cold months it is brought to the table piping hot, and in summer it is enjoyed chilled.
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