Today I’m guest posting my recipe at Chef and Steward. Chef Lij and Kari are a husband and wife team behind their blog. Chef Lij is a sous chef at a fine-dining restaurant in a Five-Star hotel while Kari is a writer and photographer for the blog. Aren’t they the best food blogger team? They are expats currently living in Dubai, but originally from Jamaica. I hope you have some time to visit their site to see their co-effort creations on their blog. All the food looks outstanding and food photography is simply beautiful. Kari asked me to make traditional autumn food so I prepared Matsutake Chawanmushi for them. Please click HERE to read my post.
Chawanmushi is a savory egg custard which is often served as an appetizer. The egg mixture is flavored with dashi stock, soy sauce, and mirin, and it is steamed in a cup. There are many variations of Chawanmushi and restaurants in Japan usually include seasonal ingredients. Today I used one of the most popular ingredients in fall – Matsutake mushroom.
As I mentioned in my Matsutake Gohan post, Matsutake mushroom (pine mushroom) is prized by the Japanese for its distinct aromatic odor and flavor. Its place in the Japanese cuisine is very similar to black and white truffle for the French. In Japan, top quality domestic Matsutake mushroom could sell for as much as $1000 per pound. Supermarkets sell import Matsutake mushrooms for less expensive price, but people still try to buy domestic as long as price is not too expensive. Luckily, even though we live in the US, we are able to get fresh Matsutake mushroom at nearby Japanese supermarket (grown in the US) for about $40 per pound.
Matsutake mushroom is typically enjoyed in a soup or rice dish, but Chawanmushi is another fantastic way to enjoy this special flavor with its unique essence and taste.
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Chawanmushi with Matsutake Mushroom
- 4 shrimp (peeled and deveined, or you can use ½ chicken thigh)
- ½ Tbsp sake (for marinating shrimp)
- 1 matsutake mushrooms
- 1 large egg (50 g w/o shell)
- 2 ginkgo nuts (pre-cooked; optional)
- 4 slices narutomaki (fish cakes) (you can use kamaboko (fish cake))
- ½ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock; click to learn more)
- ½ tsp mirin
- ½ tsp usukuchi (light-colored) soy sauce (I use light-color soy sauce so the egg custard won't become too dark. You can use regular soy sauce if you can't find it)
- ¼ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
To Prepare Ingredients
- Marinate the shrimp in sake for 15 minutes. If you use chicken, cut it into small pieces and marinate them in sake.
- Clean the matsutake mushroom with a damp towel or paper towel. Do not wash the mushrooms. Cut into thin slices.
- Whisk the egg in a medium bowl, without making air bubbles. Add and whisk all the seasonings and then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl. This makes a refined silky custard texture.
To Assemble Chawanmushi
- Divide all the ingredients into 2 chawanmushi cups. I started with one shrimp, ginkgo nuts, and matsutake mushroom. Then put naruto and another shrimp. Lastly, tie mitsuba’s stem into a knot and put it on top. The colorful ingredients should be near the surface.
- Gently pour the egg mixture into the cups without creating bubbles. Instead of covering the ingredients completely with the egg mixture, leave some ingredients exposed so it will be visually pleasing when cooked. Put the lid on (or cover tightly with aluminum foil if you don’t have chawanmushi cup).
To Cook Chawanmushi
- In a large pot, bring water to boil. The amount of water should cover ½ of the chawanmushi cups. When boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest heat.
- Gently place the chawanmushi cups inside the gentle-simmering water. Cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 25-30 minutes on the lowest heat. If you are not adding shrimp and/or chicken, the cooking time should only be 15-20 minutes. Insert a skewer in the center of the custard. If clear liquid comes out, it's done. Serve warm.
- You can keep the leftovers in a chawanmushi cup and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, steam for 2 minutes.