When I was seventeen years old I stayed with a Japanese family for a few weeks in their home just outside of Tokyo, near Kamakura. My Okaasan (Japanese host mother) made me chawanmushi and I immediately fell in love with this dish.
In 2004, I revisited Tokyo for a few days on my way to the UK and I went to see my Okaasan at her home. To my surprise, Okaasan had prepared chawanmushi just for me, as a token of her warmth and kind hospitality.
I’ve tried to make chawanmushi in my own home and I have to admit it is a difficult dish to get right. Sometimes it turns out fine and other times it just doesn’t set the way it should.
Chawanmushi literally means “steamed in a tea cup” in English and it is often served as an appetiser. It is a type of savoury egg custard mixed with soy sauce, dashi and mirin and the seeds of the gingko. It is further complemented by ingredients such as shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, fish cakes etc.
A lot of traditional Japanese restaurants outside of Japan serve chawanmushi as an appetiser. I highly recommend you try this dish and I hope you like it just as much as I do.