Chawan mushi is Japanese comfort food that combines eggs and dashi (the basic stock of Japan) to make a light custard and then it is steamed or baked in a hot water bath. Chicken, shrimp and green vegetables are typical additions but you can add whatever you want. Chawan means cup or teacup, the vessel in which the custard is steamed. There are chawan mushi cups with lids sold in Japanese or Asian grocery stores. You can easily substitute heatproof ramekins or small bowls, and cover them tightly with foil.
3 large eggs
2-3/4 cups dashi* or chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sake (optional)
4 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces or so chicken breast cut into1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons Japanese soy sauce
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
Cilantro or mitsuba leaves**
In a bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly and then stir in the dashi, salt and sake. Cut the shrimp in half lengthwise and toss them with the chicken and soy sauce. Divide shrimp and chicken in the bottom of four 8-ounce custard cups. Gently pour the egg custard mixture equally into the 4 bowls and skim off any bubbles. Cover each cup securely with foil.
Place the cups in a single layer in a steamer, partially cover and steam over moderate heat for 15 – 20 minutes or until custard is just firm. Top with a little of the ginger and a cilantro or mitsuba leaf.
*An easy alternative to making your own dashi is to brew up a granular form called hon dashi which is available in Asian markets that stock Japanese ingredients.
**Mitsuba (aka Japanese parsley, an herb with a flavor of celery, lovage, and cedar) is available at Japanese grocery stores.