Chawanmushi (Savoury Japanese Custard)

Chawanmushi Savoury Custard
Chawanmushi Savoury Custard
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Chawanmushi Savoury Custard


August 1, 2016This famous savoury custard from Japan is a simple and elegant dish that can be combined with any fresh vegetables or cooked meats and eaten hot or cold.

  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • 10 mins

    35 mins

    45 mins

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Yields: 4 bowls

The famous savoury custard from Japan was a revelation to me. Savoury custard? Why not?

It is a very versatile dish that can be served hot or cold. It can be used with most vegetables but particularly suits chicken and seafood. You will need to poach or fry chicken first, but small pieces of seafood and vegetables should cook to perfection in the time it takes the custard to set.

It is not difficult to make, but pay attention not to overcook them as they will become a little rubbery and lose their delicate appeal. It is important to wrap them well as any drips will damage the surface. You can cook them either in a bain-marie or a steamer, whichever you prefer - but the steamer will save you a bit of time.

You can go as crazy as you like with the garnish - just think of it as a edible canvas for your creativity (or just your leftovers).


12 small prawns, peeled and deveined

2 tbsp mirin

4 eggs

600ml dashi, chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp light soy sauce

8 shitake mushroom, sliced

1 spring onion, thinly sliced on an angle

1/2 tbsp chilli flakes


Place the prawns in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the mirin and allow to marinade for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Gently whisk the eggs until combined and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of mirin, soy and salt while creating as few bubbles as possible and then sieve the mixture.

Distribute the prawns and mushrooms between each of the bowls and pour over the egg mixture and cover each bowl with aluminium foil or cling film.

Place the bowls in a steamer and steam for 15-20 minutes, or cook in a bain-marie in the oven at 220C for 25-30 minutes. The custard should be just set and still be quite wobbly. A toothpick stuck into the middle will come out clean when done.

Remove from the steamer and garnish with spring onion and chilli flakes.


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About the author

Ben Macdonald

When Ben isn’t devouring food, he is thinking what to cook next. After spending his adult life eating his way around the world he ended up channelling his culinary creativity as a finalist in Masterchef Australia – famously impressing Heston Blumenthal with a campfire from steak and potatoes - before being eliminated the very next episode.
Following some time in several top restaurants he is now focussed on sharing his love of home cooking and making each meal better than the last.