Are you trying to understand how to make Chawanmushi? Or, honestly, how to pronounce it. No matter how difficult this delicacy is to pronounce – This Japanese recipe is an absolute delight. 

So, you want to make it on your own? 

Fear not. This beginner-friendly guide will explain the process in these easy steps. So, even those who have just started cooking can easily prepare this delicious Japanese recipe

In this excerpt below, we will be discussing all the steps on how to prepare everything in a proper way, starting with the choice of the best ingredients, such as eggs, dashi, shrimp, and mushrooms, to the mastery of the technique of steaming and getting the right texture of the custard.  

Prepare to up your cooking game and delight your taste buds as our Chawanmushi guide is all you need!  


What is Chawanmushi?  

There is a distinct reason why people ask how to make Chawanmushi? You are probably a novice at Japanese recipe. 

A novice may fear making this classic Japanese dish. It is a savory egg custard, subtle and creamy, usually served as a starter.  

The name means “tea bowl steam” or “steamed in a tea bowl,” referring to the special way you steam the custard in cups. Chawanmushi has a soft flan texture.  

The uniqueness of this dish is in its savory direction, as it has a gentle umami taste. Eggs and dashi are both typical components of the custard base.  

Into this base are added several elements, namely, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables, each bringing its flavors and consistency, thus making every spoonful a perfect blend.  

How to Make Chawanmushi? Understanding the Basic Ingredients  

Based on the basic ingredients of chawanmushi, which are modest but essential to the dish’s characteristic body and taste. 

  • Eggs are the star of this show; the custard will stand or fall according to the eggs’ perfection. The fresher the eggs are, the better your chawanmushi will be.  
  • As another basic, Dashi stock imparts an umami note to the eggs; it is generally made from kombu (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), although instant dashi granules are a substitute.  
  • The seasoning is simple—soy sauce adds a slight umami depth and salt to heighten the flavors.  
  • Finally, mirin, a sweet rice wine, takes care of the salty taste and finishes the flavors.  

This combination of ingredients adds nuances to the dish. However, the experiment doesn’t stop here. You can in fact, select other ingredients to add more flavor and toppings for your chawanmushi.  

How to make Chawanmushi? Specialty Ingredients  

Although the basic ingredients of chawanmushi are responsible for its foundation, the character of each dish is created by the special ingredients selected.  

They usually incorporate proteins and veggies to make the food more interesting. The popping and slightly salty flavor of shrimp or rich and tender chicken meat is normally preferred. Conversely, Shiitakes are more favored due to their robust texture and rich, woodsy flavor.   

After that are the ginkgo nuts with their shades of orange and yellow, which bring a subtle bitterness and a lot of smoothness to every bite.  

Each of these components brings its own flavorful nuance and makes it look good with its vivid colors and shapes.  

First, these ingredients should be prepped properly, i.e., cleaned, sliced, and parboiled, if necessary, to make sure that they will integrate and complement the custard rather than stand out.  

Step-by-Step Chawanmushi Recipe  

We are finally here to answer the question of how to make Chawanmushi? This is how you can prepare this delicious Japanese delight at your home. 

Step 1: Preparation Essentials  

Preparation is a crucial part of the success of your chawanmushi; hence, you will be doing better if you get it right.  

Collect all required ingredients and equipment to meticulously execute the cooking process.  

First, carefully crack your eggs into a big bowl and tip them from one hand to another a few times; take care not to amass air pockets, or your custard will contain bubbles.  

Heat your dashi stock only to the point where you can feel the warmth in your hand, and gently pour it into your beaten eggs.  

Then add soy sauce, mirin, and a pinch of sea salt.  

Strain this mixture through a fine sieve to achieve a satiny-smooth texture.  

Then, you can prepare your specialty ingredients. These include peeling and dividing the shrimp, cutting the chicken into small pieces, and chopping whatever vegetables you need for this recipe.  

Partially cook your add-ins because you can enhance the flavor by steaming. When you have your cooking ingredients, and your egg mixture, you can start assembling chawanmushi.  

Step 2: Mix the Ingredients  

What follows next is to carefully mix in your base, and the add-ins. 

First, plop some of your prepped specialty items in each chawanmushi or small ramekin.  

These could be a combo of shrimp, chicken, and mushrooms, but you can substitute based on what you like a lot of what is available.  

After that, carefully put the strained egg mix over the, dabbing it into every cup without overflowing. The idea is leaving some space for the custard to bubble up when steaming.  

If you want to layer ingredients so you can add them while the food is still inside the steamer—this technique works wonder.  

When you take the lid off, each ingredient will be different at separate levels. This trick is to pour patiently and evenly to make the mix as smooth as possible and still not create bubbles.  

Step 3: Steam the the mixture 

Steam is where all the transformation happens in making chawanmushi. 

The starch thickens, making the mixture into a firm yet tender custard.   

The first step is to cover the cup with aluminum foil to avoid water leaking into the custard.  

Prepare your steamer to cook by bringing water to the boiling point and then reducing it to a low simmer. The custard must be cooked at a low temperature to not give it a bubbly and porous finish.  

Place the cups in the steamer with enough space around them so the steam has room to rotate. 

In the end, just let them simmer.  

Depending on your cup sizes, it typically takes somewhere between 15 to 20 minutes. Check the water level in your steamer occasionally, adding more if needed. However, it is careless to disrupt the steaming process.  

Be patient and leave it alone, because a fast burn will not give you the desired result.  

Step 4: Temperature control  

This aims to achieve an optimal internal temperature

Knowing when the chawanmushi is fully cooked is important because. It is not very complicated so don’t worry! 

With the right signs, you will know.  

First, take a spoon in hand, then carefully take off the cup’s cover to ensure that the custard is ready. It should be firm but still jiggly.  

Second, a more conventional practice involves putting a toothpick or skewer through the cake until it disappears. A custard is ready if the color is clean or there is no visible spurting liquid.  

On the other hand, if it is milky liquid then the custard is raw. Or, if it is too firm, if overcooked. This can make your  

If you are not certain, it is safer to go undercooking the custard. As the heat still cooks the latter after steaming, remember that.  

Step 5: Flavour Enhancements  

After knowing how to make Chawanmushi, we now have the chawanmushi ready. So, it’s time to put in some finishing touches to fully enjoy the flavor profile.  

Another widely popular one is a tiny pinch of light soy sauce or soy sauce mixed with wasabi. You can place this on top of the custard for that unique umami taste.  

Fancy tasters often add a spoonful of ikura (salmon roe) or uni (sea urchin) for top-notch tastes to incorporate the seafood taste.  

However, they are expensive, and you do not need to spend so much money unless it’s to your taste. You can jsut drizzle a little truffle oil or some slices on top to give it that rich, earthy glamor.  

First, remember that these additions are meant to embellish – not drown – the delicacy of the chawanmushi. Therefore, have a cautious approach when putting those final flavor enhancers.  

Step 6: Plating of Chawanmushi 

The presentation of chawanmushi is as significant as its flavor. Afterall, we do eat with our eyes first.  

Once done preparing, the next step is to make some quick fixes that will make the dish delicious and beautiful.  

Organize the greens, maybe pea shoots or carrot slices and such, for an extra dollop of color.  

Place them on top if you have any ingredients to enhance the vibrancy of the dish. Besides a little sprig of parsley, a thin lemon slice can act visually interesting and give a gesture of freshness, too.  

It is popular to present the chawanmushi in the traditional ware with lids or Shiru-wan. This traps the steam, keeping the custard warm for a long time. 

Use any small, heatproof bowl or cups available if you don’t own traditional ware. Place the cups on a serving tray or the actual plates, concerned equally with the appearance of the entire serving.  

A straight-to-the-point and uncomplicated plating will enhance the nature of your dish! 

Step 7: Let’s listen to Chawanmushi  

The last step, which is said to be the tastiest part of all, is to eat the chawanmushi. Serve it warm. With this, you can taste its delicate texture and the flavor nuances.  

Chawanmushi is tasty both by itself and with other dishes. It contributes best to a simple bowl of steamed rice. This could be your starting point of a more splendid Japanese feast. 

In all the good parts of cooking and enjoying chawanmushi, one comes to find that it is not just about eating. It is also about coming to appreciate the Japanese culture and learning the new art through cooking.  

From How to make Chawanmushi – To Making Your Chawanmushi Smooth  

The only secret to making a delicious and silky chawanmushi is to pay attention to the small details and techniques. Once you practice the technique enough, you should be able to master it. However, here is a checklist for beginners! 

Start by whisking the eggs so that you end up with no air bubbles that could form a pock in the cake.  

An equally important step is straining the egg and mixing the dashi through a fine mesh sieve.  

Then we remove any part of the egg white that has not been fully incorporated and ensure consistency.  

When pouring the mix, you should do it in small quantities without breaking any foam

When steaming, don’t put the heat too high and inconsistent. That high heat can make the egg mixtures cook too fast, and result in a rough texture.  

Additionally, do not place the cups too tightly in the steamer. Your dish needs enough room for heat circulation.  

Finally, try to ensure that you don’t peek too often because it may lead to temperature changes, and that might affect the texture of your custard.  

Variations for Chawanmushi Recipe  

In our how to make Chawanmushi guide, we explained how to make the traditional form. 

Although we all love the traditional, Chawanmushi could lead to some delicious variations.  

Aside from meat-based proteins, you may substitute these with various mushrooms, such as the delicate stemmed enoki and shiitake. This offers a wide range of textures and flavors that will suit the mushroom connoisseur.  

Also, include leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, or asparagus for extra color and nutrient richness. On the other hand, those who lean towards heartier meals can opt for grilled unagi cubes that have a smoky, luxurious flavor.  

For those who love a little spice, a pinch of togarashi (grated seven spices) can add a nice, spicy kick without disappearing in the soft and delicate custard.  

If you have food restrictions, you can use vegan products like plant-based dashi and silken tofu to substitute for eggs in a vegan alternative.  

The real magic of chawanmushi lies in its adaptability. You can tailor them to everything that you like. Let your imagination run wild and customize it according to your needs! 

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sibashree bhattacharya
Sibashree has been into SEO and eCommerce content writing for more than 9 years. She loves reading books and is a huge fan of those over-the-top period dramas. Her favorite niches are fashion, lifestyle, beauty, traveling, relationships, women's interests, and movies. The strength of her writing lies in thorough research backing and an understanding of readers’ pain points.

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