Saturday, October 23, 2021

Khok: My DIY chawanmushi

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I’ve been watching a lot of food vlogs lately. I admire the dedication of Japanese chefs in spending time to prepare the raw components of a dish with care.

Fish isn’t just filleted; it’s washed, of course, descaled, gutted with a knife before it’s filleted. And not just filleted; the skin is carefully removed with a sharp knife.

One dish that I have tried is chawanmushi (lit. “tea cup steam” or chawan, tea cup and mushi, steam).

Its delicate flavor was memorable with teasing saltiness to contrast with the bland shrimp. And since I mentioned food vlogs, I might as well share I’ve collected enough DIY recipes for chawanmushi.

I think ideally a chef or even a third-rate cook like me shouldn’t be in a rush in making a Japanese dish. Correct me if I’m wrong.

I tried the instant noodle version because (shame on me) I was in a rush. I was in a rush to enjoy homemade chawanmushi.

Did my vision of silky, heavenly custard meet reality? No.

After one too many cups of pocked-mushi, scrambled-mushi, and mushy-mushi, I think I finally created a decent, maybe not up to the standard of chef Shinobu Namae or chef Hiroyuki Terada, but still a decent cup of savory custard.

HOW. I only ate the instant noodles, reserving the soup, surimi and vegetable bits. I beat one egg, added the soup, mixed it gently, and poured it into a cup. I topped it with sliced button mushrooms, and covered the cup with plastic wrap. After 10 minutes of steaming, my chawanmushi was done.

Over many days of eggy fiascos, I learned that 3:1 of soup to egg is a good ratio, and to pre-heat the steamer before the actual cooking.

Chef Terada has a video on making chawanmushi from scratch. I eat egg sandwiches as I muse over my custard future.


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