茶碗蒸し chawan mushi (steamed tea cup) is the Japanese version of a savory egg dish, where the egg is steamed in its serving dish. As indicated by the name, the Japanese version is often steamed in tea cups or small bowls. Chawan can refer to both. Meanwhile, what I've often had with Taiwanese family versions (蒸水蛋 zhengshuidan steamed egg) of it is in larger bowls that people share out of. Although I've seen chawan mushi referred to as a "savory egg custard", that doesn't seem right to me as there is no milk product involved.
In any case, when done right, the texture of the egg is silky smooth and an excellent complement with freshly steamed rice. The trick is that it has to be steamed gently, at a simmer, rather than at a rolling boil. If the water is boiling to strongly, your egg will turn out more foamy. There's definitely a lot of variation in terms of what people put into it besides the egg and broth, so throw in what you like.
[The timing on my recipe is approximate; the last time I made this I didn't check that it was simmering and think I turned down the heat too low as it took longer.]
茶碗蒸し Chawan Mushi (Steamed Egg)
1 cup chicken stock†
1/2 tsp rice wine
1/2 tsp soy sauce
pinch of salt
2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced into strips
1 scallion, chopped
- Whisk eggs, stock, rice wine, soy sauce, and pinch of salt together in a bowl.
- Divide sliced mushrooms and scallions evenly between rice bowls or tea cups (or just pour into one larger bowl that is safe to heat)
- Prepare your steamer (I use a wok with steaming rack) and bring water to boil.
- Place bowls in steamer, reduce heat so the water is simmering* (medium-low to low) and steam for about 12 minutes or until egg has just set.
- Be careful when you remove the bowls as they will be hot, or let them cool a little before serving with steamed rice.
†An approximately equal volume of stock to eggs is a good baseline. The more stock you have versus egg, the thinner and lighter the egg will be after steaming. I would say to avoid adding too much stock, though, as it leads to the egg feeling insubstantial in your mouth.
*It’s important that the water just be simmering as opposed to boiling so that the surface is smooth and the texture of the egg silky. If the water is strongly boiling, your egg will turn out foamy.
Other lesson learned: it's easier to steam an even number of items on a steamer rack in a wok than odd (except for one). Haha, I had a bit of a time trying to keep the rack from tilting around as I arranged and removed three bowls on top of it.