Japanese Steamed Eggs (Chawanmushi)


Make this delicate, Japanese steamed egg custard in under 20 minutes!

Chawanmushi is a Japanese savory steamed egg custard that is traditionally served in a tea cup. The dish often includes colorful toppings such as shiitake mushrooms, edamame, Japanese fish cake (kamaboko), ginkgo nuts, shrimp, sea urchin (uni), and large fish roe (ikura), making it a beautiful and delicate appetizer or side dish for any meal. The egg custard is silky and eggy with a slightly sweet, fish flavor from the dashi. If you have not tried this dish before, I encourage you to make this recipe and experience the tastiness of steamed egg custard!

I grew up eating Chinese steamed egg, which is very similar, but includes different seasonings and toppings and is not typically prepared in a teacup. Chawanmushi is more seafood-based, so I will prepare chawanmushi if I happen to have seafood ingredients on hand. At the time of this posting, it is near 100 degrees outside, but can you imagine having this dish on a cold, winter day? Yes, I eat this all the time in winter and it is my go-to food for my sick days.

I kept my egg custard pretty simple, topping it with only 4 ingredients: shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, ikura, and chopped green onions. Some of the ingredients may be more difficult to find in a standard grocery store so you may have to look visit an Asian grocery store or purchase online.

Specialty ingredients used in this recipe:

  • Hondashi/dashi powder: powdered dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and dried kelp (kombu). It is used to make soup bases due to its rich umami flavor. Purchase in an Asian grocery store or online.
  • Trout or salmon roe (ikura): red caviar from salmon or trout. The roe pops in your mouth and releases a salty flavor explosion. Ikura is used as a topping for dishes such as sushi, rice bowls, and steamed eggs. Purchase in a specialty grocery store like Whole Foods, select Asian grocery stores, or online.

Other Topping Options:

  • Japanese fish cake (kamaboko): cured processed seafood product that is made from pureed fish and additives. It is steamed into the form of a cylindrical fish cake.
  • Gingko nuts: seeds found from the inside of Gingko trees. It is tender and soft, similar to a chestnut
  • Sea urchin (uni): creamy, rich, fishy sea urchin

Ingredients:

For eggs:

  • 100 g. or 2 large eggs
  • 5 g. or 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 5 g. or 1 tsp. Hondashi/dashi powder
  • 300 g. or 1 1/4 c. warm water

For toppings:

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together dashi powder and warm water. Add eggs and soy sauce and whisk together. Pour the egg mixture through a strainer to remove any bubbles.
  2. Pour the strained egg mixture into 2 small bowls or ramekins. Cover the bowls with foil.
  3. Prepare a steamer and bring the water to a boil. Place the bowls in the steamer and steam on low heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the foil from the bowls and add the following toppings to the eggs: 1 shrimp and 2 slices of shiitake mushrooms per bowl. Do not add the ikura and green onion! Place the foil back on the bowls and steam for an additional 5-8 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and let the steamed eggs sit in the steamer for 5 minutes before removing the lid.
  6. Top each bowl with 1 tsp. ikura and some chopped green onions. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes:

  • Steamed eggs should be served immediately
  • If you do not cover the bowls with foil, water from the lid will drip onto the egg, resulting in a less smooth egg custard.

9 thoughts

  1. This is a delicacy in Japanese cuisine. A tip if you choose to top it with gingko seed: make sure the seed is not raw. If in doubt, put the seeds into a roasting pan and bake them for about 20 minutes at 350° just to be safe. Or you can do the same in a covered skillet, making sure it isn’t burned. A light almond color is usually a good color for the seed.

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