Chawan Mushi aka Japanese Savoury Egg Custard | Hong Kong Food Blog with Recipes, Cooking Tips mostly of Chinese and Asian styles | Taste Hong Kong

Chawan Mushi aka Japanese Savoury Egg Custard

Chawan-mushi aka Thick Egg Soup

Saying goodbye to the Winter Solstice and the Christmas also means that hubby and I are having a pause for heavy eatings after a couple of meaty, dine-out meals. So naturally, this recipe becomes a member of our light dishes.

Steamed egg is not a strange dish to me, yet I cooked this with reference to a cookbook, Masterclass in Japanese Cooking, trying to follow a Japanese chef way of cooking. I have read critics about this book for not being in-depth enough to justify the ‘Masterclass’. Yet this classic Japanese chawan mushi (茶碗蒸し), meaning a dish of thick egg soup steamed in a tea bowl, turned out in a way that I may declare it not being inferior to those found in Japanese restaurants, decent ones.

Traditionally, chawan mushi is topped with some extra ingredients like prawns (shrimps), chicken, duck, ginkgo nuts, shiitake mushrooms, grilled anago (sea eel), green vegetables, lily bulb or even young bamboo shoots. The one done in the book however has shown a variation by adding shimeji mushrooms and okra. Without these two on hand, I therefore had spring onions replaced for the green portion and dried black mushrooms for the shimeji.

Chawan-mushi aka Thick Egg Soup

In addition to eggs, another key ingredient in making this flavorful custard is a stock called dashi, typically boiled from dried konbu and dried bonito. Although other type of stocks, chicken, dried scallop or dried shiitake, are also suggested in the book, I must say dashi is the one that underscored the taste of Japanese cuisine.

But I agree that a good bowl of chawan mushi shall be free of bubbles or rough texture. To make it right, you may be interested in seeing a few simple steps showing how to steam a silky and smooth egg custard here.

  • Ingredients
  • Egg Soup
  • 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup dashi
  • 1/3 tsp sake
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp soy sauce
  • Dashi
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 5 cm square of dried konbu (kelp)
  • 15g dried bonito (kezuribushi)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • yields about 2 cups dashi
  • Toppings
  • 3 shrimps
  • 2 dried black mushrooms, reconstituted, water squeezed and finely sliced
  • 1 sprig spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Chawan-mushi aka Thick Egg Soup


  • Dashi
  • Briefly rinse konbu under running water; put it in a saucepan with 2 1/4 cups water and bring to the boil over medium heat.
  • Just before the water comes to the boil, take out konbu and add in dried bonito.
  • Remove from heat as soon as the water boils. After the dried bonito fully settled to the bottom, strain through a fine sieve.
  • Let cool

Making Dashi with Kelp
Making Dashi with Dried Bonito
Straining Dashi

  • Egg Soup
  • Beat eggs, mixed in 2 1 1/2 cups cool dashi together with sake, salt, and soy sauce.
  • Gently pour egg mixture into a steam-proof bowl or cup to reach a thickness of about 3 to 4 cm (this recipe shall make 4 bowls of this).
  • Set up a rack with about 3 to 4 cups water in a wok, cover. Bring water to the boil.
  • Cover bowls with aluminium foils or a flat plates, steam over low heat for about 15 minutes.
  • Once again, steaming a silky and smooth egg custard is not a secret, you may see the steps in my previous post (mind you, the hardness of egg custard in that recipe is different from this one), just check it out here.
  • Topping
  • Discard shrimp heads; shell, devein, rinse them and pat dry. Dice.
  • While steaming the eggs, in a saucepan, heat oil over low heat and sauté sliced mushrooms until fragrant. Add water, simmer until about only a tablespoon of water is left. Mix in sake, salt, followed by diced shrimps. Stir cook.
  • Remove from heat when shrimps turn bright red.
  • Assembling
  • Test doneness of eggs by inserting a toothpick (as it comes out clean).
  • Arrange sliced spring onions, cooked shrimps and mushrooms on top of each bowl of chawan mushi. Serve hot with sauce.

I would suggest sampling the steamed egg before adding the sauce. Usually chawan mushi is eaten as an appetizer, but we serve this with rice and some veggie, and we have enjoyed it very much.

Enjoy yours!

For dressing the custard, you may choose to make a simple sauce as I have just mentioned or cook up a kuzu soup to top the custard as shown in the second image above, which is a snapshot from the book but is a step I have skipped. Whichever, again enjoy!

  • Kuzu Soup
  • 1/2 cup dashi
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp kuzu (thickening agent) or arrowroot, diluted with 1/2 tbsp water
  • Heat dashi, season with salt and soy sauce. Add the diluted kuzu or arrowroot into the soup, stirring continuously until the soup thickens. Remove from heat.

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  1. Mary Moh

    Wow…that looks very silky and smooth steamed eggs. I don’t mind to eat that everyday. Have never tried the Japanese version. Looks very delicious. I always make very plain steamed eggs. Need to be more adventurous next time. Thanks for all the tips.

  2. Little Inbox

    I just had this for my dinner when I dined in a Japanese restaurant last night. I love it and I want to learn how to make this at home too. Yours looks so good!

  3. Mei Teng

    I love chawan mushi. You can also add slivers of century eggs in the steamed egg custard.

  4. TasteHongKong

    @Mei Teng,
    Sure, I like to go for Chinese ways of preparing egg custard too.

  5. tigerfish

    I have been eating out for the past few days and miss such light and tasty savory fare.

  6. Angie's Recipes

    You make better chawan mushi than those served in the restaurants!

    Happy New Year!

  7. My Taste Heaven

    my favourite!!! nice!!! =]

    happy 2011 to you! all the best in the coming year! god bless xx

  8. Chinoiseries

    Happy new year! This dish looks amazing, I didn’t know the Japanese version of the dish. I am very tempted to see if there’s still okra to be found somewhere…

  9. Tastes of Home (Jen)

    Happy New Year!! Wishing you a happy and healthy 2011!

    btw, your chawan mushi looks great! love making chawan mushi at home, totally worth the effort 😀

  10. Christine@Christine's Recipes

    It’s a pleasure to enjoy the silky egg custard cooked in the Japanese way, because I love the dashi. This dish is always on top of my cooking list. I think I’ll make it for CNY. 🙂

  11. Teppanyaki Gold Coast

    What a wonderful array of ingredients and flavours, a hit for sure!

  12. noobcook

    love chawanmushi and your generous toppings! happy 2011!

  13. penny aka jeroxie

    your chawanmushi looks so silky! And thanks for the tips 🙂

    Happy New Year!!

  14. jo

    I love chawanmushi and this looks really, really good. Great tips and I’ve got this try this soon.

  15. Mark

    Nice work. True perfection with technique and taste. Thanks.

  16. Juliana

    Wow, your chawan mushi looks perfect, so delicate and elegant. Love the flavor of this egg custard. The pictures are awesome! Happy New Year!

  17. food-4tots

    Love the presentation of your chawan mushi. So stylish!! Thanks for sharing all the great tips. 😉

  18. Maya

    So flavourful and beautiful 🙂

  19. Lori

    Wow, a savory custard sounds amazing. It is definitely something I haven’t experienced before, but every part of the recipe sounds like something I would love.

  20. Heavenly Housewife

    What an elegant soup, it looks absolutely beautiful.
    *kisses* HH

  21. Three-Cookies

    Very sophisticated/complex looking dish. Would love to try this…

  22. akazuki items

    The main picture is beautiful…Just feel like i want to eat some!