There are some awe-inspiring blogs out there and The Bitten Word is one of them. It’s the collaboration of two awesome cooks and writers who happen to have an enviable food magazine collection. But they don’t just collect the magazines like, ahem, many of us. They actually make the recipes inside.
The moment I found out about their Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Challenge (#tbwc2c) I jumped right in. Me and 350 other people! That’s a testimony to their tremendous readership. When they first announced they needed 60 people for the challenge to work I knew they would have many more.
I couldn’t wait to get my assignment. When the email came through that I would be on team Saveur I was ecstatic. Saveur has some of the most unique and delicious recipes. I was sitting in the bleachers of a swim meet scrolling through the spreadsheet on my phone (between races, I swear!) and then I found my name. Next to it was the name of my assigned recipe: Chawanmushi.
That was my first thought. I think it was my second thought, too.
Chawanmushi, as it turns out, is a savory steamed egg custard that is traditionally served as a Japanese appetizer. Made with shrimp and chicken and fish broth.
I’ll admit that this sounded totally gross to me. I briefly thought about bailing. I mean, I find flan utterly disgusting and that doesn’t even have boiled anchovies in it.
Then, all of a sudden, I realized this would give me the perfect excuse to buy some adorable vintage ramekins that I’ve been coveting on etsy.
Chawanmushi it is!
I hate when I’m right. Actually, no I don’t. I pretty much love being right but in this case I really wanted to be wrong about how gross this was.
The flavor was pretty interesting and not bad at all. I scooped the shrimp out of each ramekin and ate it. It was delicious. But the custard itself was wretched. I knew it would be when I saw how it quivered as I pulled it out of the oven. That’s right, it quivered. I’ve read comparisons online to silken tofu, which I’ve never had and won’t be trying now.
But Saveur magazine can’t be all wrong. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who would love this. If you like Japanese food, silken tofu, and flan this is totally for you!
- 2 Japanese-style dried anchovies (iriko), heads removed
- ½ (2″x15″) piece kombu
- 2 tbsp. dried bonito flakes
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut crosswise into ½”-thick slices, 1½” long
- 4 medium shrimp, heads removed, peeled, and deveined, halved lengthwise
- 1½ tsp. soy sauce
- 1½ tsp. mirin
- 3 eggs
- 2 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 2 triangles each
- 4 tops of parsley sprigs, tied into a knot
- Zest of ½ lemon
- Bring anchovies, kombu, and 1½ cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan; remove and discard anchovies and kombu with a slotted spoon. Add bonito; remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes; pour through a strainer and set dashi aside.
- Heat oven to 325°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add chicken; cook until opaque, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl; set aside. Add shrimp; cook until opaque, about 30 seconds. Drain; add to bowl with chicken. Divide mixture among four 6-oz. ramekins; place in a 9″x13″ baking dish.
- Whisk dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and eggs in a bowl; pour through a fine strainer into a liquid measuring cup. Pour over shrimp and chicken in ramekins; top with mushroom triangle. Pour boiling water into baking dish to come halfway up sides of ramekins; bake until custard is just set, about 30 minutes.
- Divide parsley among custard tops, and continue cooking until parsley is slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer ramekins to serving plates; sprinkle with lemon zest before serving.
Recipe from Saveur.