Chawan mushi is a traditional side dish made with beaten egg, and the texture is like custard. It uses various ingredients such as Japanese honeywort, shiitake mushroom, ginkgo nut, lily bulb, fish cake, chicken, shrimp, and clams.
The way chawan mushi is made is simple, but it’s hard to make a perfect chawan mushi at home. First, the ingredients are put in a small porcelain cup, and then beaten egg mixed with stock will be poured into the cup. The cups will be steamed in a steamer. The steaming time should not be too long, because there will be small bubbles on the edge and surface.
When Chinese settlements were built in Nagasaki in 1689, Chinese cuisine introduced to Japan turned into Japanese “shippoku” dish, which is served at banquets. One of the side dishes served was chawan-mushi. It spread to Osaka and Tokyo, and became a well known dish.
A feudal retainer who often visited Nagasaki was impressed by the taste of chawan mushi, and opened a chawan muhi speciality restaurant in 1866. The restaurant is called “yosso,” which still exists in Nagasaki and has a sister restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo.
There are variations of chawan mushi. “Odamaki mushi” from Osaka uses udon noodles instead of using many ingredients. “Odamaki mushi” used to be served as a festive dish during new years in Osaka. “Kuuya mushi” uses tofu as an ingredient, and pour kudzu sauce on top.
In Aomori prefecture, sweet boiled chestnuts are used instead of ginkgo nut. In Hokkaido, the basic ingredients are bamboo shoot, chicken, shiitake mushroom, shrimp, and sweet chestnut.
The manner to eat chawan mushi is not to stir around to find the ingredients inside. It is also important to not make a sipping sound when you eat.