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Chawanmushi or Savory Egg Custard

Chawanmushi or Savory Egg Custard

Learn how to make chawan mushi, a traditional Japanese steamed savory custard dish made from eggs, dashi, and soy sauce, with chicken, shrimp, and dried shiitake mushrooms. This easy home recipe ensures a perfectly smooth custard served in small heatproof vessels, garnished with mitsuba if desired.

Chawan mushi is one of those Japanese dishes I've enjoyed in restaurants for years but always thought would be too hard to make at home. A steamed savory custard served in an cup, chawan mushi is made from eggs, dashi and soy sauce, usually with tasty tidbits added like ginko nuts, shrimp, chicken or thin slices of reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms. When wife Momo decided to make chawan mushi, sans the tidbits, for baby Gen -- who basically loves every food that hits his lips -- I realized that this dish was totally doable in a home kitchen; easy, in fact. But, surprise, surprise, baby Gen didn't like Momo's chawan mushi! I did, though, and resolved to make it myself a few days later to understand the method. The keys are passing the egg mixture through a sieve and steaming for just the right amount of time. Here's the recipe, with chicken, shrimp and dried shiitake. Give it a shot!

Serves 4:

Chawan Mushi with Shrimp & Chicken (Japanese Steamed Egg Custard)


  • 3 cups dashi
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 whole small or medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in 1 cup of water for at least 1 hour, then stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs of mitsuba (optional, for garnish)


  1. Prepare the Dashi Mixture: In a mixing bowl, combine the dashi, soy sauce, and salt. Set aside.

  2. Prepare the Eggs: Beat the eggs carefully in a small bowl until the whites and yolk are thoroughly combined but not frothy. Strain the beaten eggs through a sieve or a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl, discarding any solids. Mix the strained eggs with the dashi mixture.

  3. Set Up Custard Cups: Prepare 4 small, heatproof vessels, such as earthenware teacups. Distribute 2 pieces of chicken, 1 shrimp, and 2 or 3 slices of shiitake into each cup. Pour the egg-dashi mixture over the ingredients in each cup.

  4. Steam the Custard: Set up a steamer on the stove. Once ready, place the custard cups in the steamer. Cover them with a sheet of cheesecloth, then cover with the steamer lid to prevent condensation from dripping onto the custard. Steam on high heat for 3 minutes, then reduce to low and steam for another 10 minutes or until the custard is set.

  5. Serve: Serve the chawan mushi warm, garnished with a sprig of mitsuba if desired. Enjoy with a spoon!

Note: In Japanese restaurants, chawan mushi is often topped with savory dashi before serving. This step is optional for this home recipe.