Our theme this month has been all about Japanese ideas about living. We have been embracing wabisabi, forest bathing and the joy of mastering new things. With this in mind I decided to share this unusual recipe. It is a Japanese classic but it’s not well known here in the UK.
Chawanmushi is a savoury egg custard. In Japan it is eaten as a starter or side dish and is served in a tea bowl with a lid. I served this recipe at a supperclub a couple of months ago and it went down a storm. To be honest I feared people might not like it as, for an English palate it is unusual, but I always like to serve at least one risky dish on a menu to get people talking and inspired by totally novel things. It was actually the hit of the night and most of the diners said it was their favourite dish.
Chawanmushi is really easy to make. If you don’t have a steamer you can make one by putting some hot water into a roasting tray with the custards, cover it with foil and into a medium oven (about 150).
A couple of these ingredients are not available in your average supermarket but you can find them in Asian shops or Amazon stocks them all. They are all versatile things to have in the cupboard if you like Asian food. The mushrooms are used as a filling you could also add vegetables such as broccoli.
I also used the Cult Vinegar which featured in our May box. It is a cultured vinegar and great for pickling things. If you don’t want to use rhubarb you could substitute it with spring onions, radishes or cabbage. Personally I love the sweet sourness of the pickled rhubarb.
Chawanmushi with Pickled Rhubarb
Ingredients (serves 4)
You will need a steamer and 4 heat proof cups or bowls
240ml dashi stock
1 tsp sake
1 tsp temari (or soy sauce)
2 tsp sugar
1 stick rhubarb
1 tbsp Sake vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
2 spring onions or a few chives
a handful of fresh mushrooms (chopped into 1.5cm cubes)
Some cooked chicken or prawns (optional)
Preparation: (about 30 minutes)
To pickle the rhubarb: cut the rhubarb into match stick sized pieces and add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsbsp vinegar. Mix it up and leave for at least half an hour before you want to eat.
Start to fry the chopped mushrooms in a little oil and a dash of soy sauce
To make the custard whisk the eggs gently so that they combine but do not get foamy. Add the dashi, temari, sugar and a pinch of salt and stir to combine.
Once the mushrooms are soft divide those between the 4 bowls and add some chopped chives/spring onions.
(You can prepare ahead up to this point and then continue with the recipe about 15 minutes before you are ready to serve)
Get your steamer ready and then share out the custard mixture between the bowls.
Steam the custards for about 8 minutes until they are just set but still wobbly.
Drain the rhubarb and garnish the custards
Eat these straight away while still hot