Chawanmushi, Japanese Savory Egg Custard


Maria Kanno/Flickr CC 2.0 

  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 bowls (4 servings)

Chawanmushi is a Japanese hot appetizer. It is a type of egg custard steamed in a cup, but it is not sweet. You might find it at sushi restaurants or slightly more formal Japanese restaurants in Japan. “Chawan” means teacup or rice bowl and “mushi” means steamed in Japanese, and it is indeed steamed food in a cup. Chawanmushi’s flavor comes mainly from Dashi, soy sauce, and mirin, and even though Chawanmushi is a savory dish, the texture is similar to egg flan.

Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock used in Japanese cuisine. Dashi forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle broth and many kinds of simmering liquid.


  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cup dashi soup stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sake
  • 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1/4 enoki mushrooms, chopped, or 4 shiitake mushrooms (stems removed and thinly sliced)
  • 4 leaves mitsuba (trefoil)
  • 8 slices kamaboko or narutomaki fish cakes

Steps to Make It

  1. Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl. Try not to bubble the eggs.

  2. Mix cool dashi soup stock, soy sauce, salt, sake, and sugar in another bowl.

  3. Add the dashi mixture in the egg mixture gradually. Strain the egg mixture.

  4. Put mushrooms, chicken, and kamaboko or narutomaki slices in four chawanmushi cups, or teacups.

  5. Fill each cup to three-quarters full with the egg mixture. Cover the cups.

  6. Preheat a steamer on high heat.

  7. Turn the heat down to low and carefully place cups in the steamer. 

  8. Steam for a few minutes on high heat.

  9. Turn down the heat to low and steam for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until done.

  10. Poke a bamboo stick in the chawanmushi and if clear soup comes out, it's done.

  11. Place mitsuba leaves on top of chawanmushi.


  • Chawanmushi is relatively simple to make, so it is a home cooking dish, too. When you eat Chawanmushi at home, it is more like one of the side dishes rather than an appetizer. Still, Chawanmushi can add a special feeling to a mundane meal. It is traditional to add ginkgo seeds and lily roots in Japan, but they are hard to find in the U.S., even in Japanese markets. So they are typically omitted, but if you can find them, go for it. They make the dish more authentic. Other ingredients such as shiitake mushroom, shrimp, and chicken give complex and delicious flavor to this dish. In some parts of Japan, people put udon noodles in this custard, and that variation is called Odamakimushi.
  • If you have a small cup with a lid to use, that would be perfect, but if not, don’t worry. Just use ramekins or other small bowls and cover with aluminum foil. If you cook too long, there will be little holes i n the custard, so check it after 7 to 8 minutes.