Post image for {#tbwc2c} Chawanmushi

{#tbwc2c} Chawanmushi

by TastefullyJulie on October 15, 2012

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.

WTF? Chawan-what?

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!

5.0 from 5 reviews


  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

I didn’t bother with the first three ingredients. I just used dashi powder to make the dashi broth. It was easily obtained in my local grocery store which can’t be said about dried anchovies, kombu, and bonito flakes.

Recipe from Saveur.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Part Time House Wife October 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm

No offenese Julie, but your description doesn’t have me sold either! lol but based off the picture I’d totally try it!
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2 CJ at Food Stories October 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

This sounds a little scary; although, the pictures and ramekins are gorgeous :-)
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3 Angie@Angie's Recipes October 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I like steamed eggs. Your ramekins are so adorable.
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4 Choc Chip Uru October 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I would love to try this it looks gorgeous :D

Choc Chip Uru
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5 Abby October 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I shudder at anything with bonito flakes…Good for you for trying! It does look beautiful, so I still give it 5 stars :)
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6 TastefullyJulie October 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

I know, Abby! That’s why I totally cheated and used dashi powder.


7 Eha October 15, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Have made this for more than four decades: interesting approach I shall most certainy try!!


8 TastefullyJulie October 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

I’m glad to hear that you like it. It’s good to know someone does! ;)


9 Maureen Chandler October 16, 2012 at 4:34 am

This chawanmushi looks good, this one looks like a soup that is perfect for cold and winter days.
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10 Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies October 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I love Japanese food, but I don’t know about this either. Even if I did eat seafood, I think I’d be giving this one the side-eye too.

I can’t wait to see what you’re making next–this is quite a challenge!
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11 Zach @ The Bitten Word October 17, 2012 at 9:01 am

Thanks for rising to the #tbwc2c challenge, Julie! Sorry this was a bust, but I’m glad it gave you an excuse to buy some adorable ramekins.

(Also, is it crazy that I actually think this might sound appetizing to me?? Probably.)
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12 TastefullyJulie October 17, 2012 at 10:25 am

Thanks Zach. I think I’ll stick to Creme Brulee in those ramekins!


13 kitchenriffs October 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Great looking dish! And actually, reading the ingredients and procedure it sounds like it should be pretty good. But of course I haven’t tasted it, so I might find it wretched too! (Good word, and one I don’t hear often enough.) Entertaining post – thanks.
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14 Katherine Martinelli October 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Hahaha good for you for making it anyway! And trying it! It certainly looks gorgeous… I’ve had chawanmushi before and enjoyed it, although maybe minus the anchovy. And I don’t share the same aversion to flan ;-)
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15 Kiran @ October 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Bravo for trying, it looks good anyways :)
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16 Amanda@anunlikelydietitian October 18, 2012 at 8:09 am

Oh my goodness this is so brave! I though I was being ballsy by using flaxseeds but LOOK AT THIS! Now I have to try something bizarre too to make myself feel better :D


17 Chris @ Grocery App October 19, 2012 at 6:04 am

Love your recipe! The colour is so vibrant and I love the beautiful and delicious egg combination! So healthy too!


18 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen October 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Well good for you for experimenting even if it didn’t turn out quite as hoped.
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19 davmc October 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Do you actually know where real food comes from?or do you believe it all originates from a packet? OMG.Came here from MDA won’t be coming again.
Notice most of your groupies are other bloggers trying to get hits…says it all.


20 TastefullyJulie October 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm

If you search my entire blog I doubt you could find another post with an ingredient from a packet. That just goes to show how ignorant you are. Thanks for stopping by.


21 Part Time House Wife October 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Or we come because Julie knows what the heck she’s doing in the kitchen! She always has impeccable recipes and gorgeous photography. Pretty presumptuous, you are davmc!
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22 JamieK October 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Great endeavor Julie! At least you got some cute ramekins out of it! I’m on Team Saveur as well and look forward to our recipes coming up.
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23 TastefullyJulie October 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Go Team Saveur! They are saving the best for last :)


24 Lisa April 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

I actually love chawanmushi! I have fond memories of eating them at a high-end Japanese restaurant where I used to waitress. We served them as complimentary starters at brunch — many people felt the same as you and wouldn’t touch them once told what they were. Personally, I love the delicate, silken tofu-like texture and savory flavor. I always ate the ones that were sent back to the kitchen :) Thanks for bringing back a fond memory!


25 Forest Wilson March 1, 2014 at 9:14 am

I thought it was cheese soup at first glance!


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