Thursday, January 03, 2013
Recipe: Modified from "All-Mushroom Egg Custard Soup (Kinokozukushi Chawanmushi)" from "The Japanese Kitchen" by Hiroko Shimbo
Rating: Tasty. I like that this recipe only requires a few ingredients for the filling.
Status: A keeper. I will make this again.
I choose to make this chawanmushi because it only has a few ingredients in the filling, so it is quick. You can usually pick out individual mushrooms to buy, so this recipe is also inexpensive to make since it uses only a small handful of mushrooms.
Shizuo Tsuji comments in "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art" that "Chawan-mushi 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 table piping hot, and in summer it is very good chilled."
handful of mushrooms (about 1 cup chopped)
1/4 cup water for soaking any dried mushrooms, or 1/4 cup dashi
1 Tbsp neutral oil
2 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp soy sauce
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 cup primary dashi
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
If you are using any dried mushrooms, then rinse them to remove any particles on them, and then soak them in 1/4 cup warm water for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are rehydrated. Squeeze the excess water out of the rehydrated mushrooms, and save the soaking water. If you aren't using rehydrated mushrooms, then increase the dashi by about 1/4 cup.
Mince the white and light green parts of the scallions. Reserve 1 Tbsp for garnishing.
Remove any stems that are tough from the mushrooms and discard or save for another use (such as making mushroom broth). Cut all the mushrooms into 1/3-inch cubes. Heat oil in a saute pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms (don't stir yet) and cook for 1 minute. Stir once. Add the mirin, shoyu, stir, and cook for 1 additional minute. Stir the ground black pepper and the scallions (except for the scallions reserved for garnishing). Remove from heat and set aside.
Break eggs into a medium bowl and beat lightly. The eggs should not be frothy and the surface should not have bubbles or foam. Add the dashi and the mushroom soaking liquid (if using). Add 1 tsp salt. Add the mushrooms.
Fill 4 to 6 three-inch ramkins or Japanese custard cups 80% full with the egg-broth mixture, distributing the mushrooms evenly.
Fill the bottom of the steamer with water, and heat until the water is boiling. Add the cups into the steamer; they should not touch the boiling water. Steam over high heat for 2 minutes, and then reduce the heat to medium-low. The temperature inside the steamer basket should be about 195 degrees for the rest of the steaming period. I actually tested my temperature with an electric thermometer and my pot was between 190 - 198 F without me needing to alter anything, so I think that the it isn't necessary to measure the temperature to get good results, though if you are unsure, checking the thermometer is a good way to verify that you are steaming correctly. Steam on medium-low for 13 minutes or more, until clear liquid runs out when a chopstick is inserted into one of the cups. The cups will still be very jiggly, and only lightly set.
Remove the lid from the steamer, being careful to not drip water from the lid on to the custards. If you have to replace the lid, then wipe the water off the lid first before replacing it.
Garnish with the reserved scallions. Serve immediately while the custard is hot (you can keep it warm for a few minutes if necessary in the steamer with the lid on), or chill and serve cold. If serving cold, then I like mine drizzled with 1/4 tsp sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp soy sauce. Serve each custard with a small spoon.
For the mushrooms I used 6 brown button, 2 large shitake, and 4 dried Chinese black mushrooms which I soaked in warm water until they were rehydrated.
Use primary dashi because it is more flavorful than secondary dashi, and since the eggs have so few ingredients, using flavorful ingredients is important.
Shizuo Tsuji comments in "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art" that if you need to adjust quantity then "the seasoned stock mixture should be 3 times the volume of beaten egg, so apply this ratio of 3 : 1 in adjusting this recipe to the number of diners."
You can substitute chicken broth for the dashi (though I haven't tried it yet). If your chicken broth is salted, then reduce the salt accordingly. Shizuo Tsuji comments in "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art" that chicken stock is just as good as dashi in chawan-mushi; it is not just a substitute.
You can use any filling ingredients that you want; they should be cut into small bite sized pieces, preferably about 1/3 inch cubes. William is especially sensitive to having the filling cut small in egg custard. The last time I made egg custard, he told me my greens needed to be cut smaller and that it is hard to eat when they are large.