Japanese Savoury Egg Custard| Chawanmushi with Matsutake Mushroom

Both Chef and Steward are huge fans of Japanese cuisine. What is there not to love? The balance of flavours, colours and presentation… it’s all so zen and amazingly balanced. The tradition of Japanese cookery not only lies in Sushi and Teppan-yaki restaurants, but in the homes of real Japanese people. The average Japanese home cook can do wonders that only trained chefs can do in other cuisines. Such is the attention to perfection. Here is a perfect dish from a the perfect hands of our friend Nami who has such great recipes and pictures, you are guanranteed to be blown away. Do share some hospitality with her. -Chef and Steward.

Hello readers of Chef and Steward!  My name is Nami and I’m the author of Just One Cookbook.  I’m really happy to be here to share a Japanese autumn recipe with you.  Thank you Kari & Chef Lij for inviting me!

 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’m featuring a very seasonal ingredient, and part of the reason why the Japanese are excited when autumn arrives: Matsutake mushroom.

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 Matsutake mushroom could sell for as much as $1000 per pound.  Luckily, we are able to get them at nearby Japanese supermarket (grown in the US) for about $40 per pound.

 Typically enjoyed in a soup or rice dish, Chawanmushi is another fantastic way to enjoy this special mushroom with its unique essence and taste.  Have a wonderful autumn!

Ingredients: **

½ – ¾ cup dashi stock

4 shrimps or 2/3 chicken thigh (optional)

½ Tbsp. cooking sake

1 matsutake mushrooms

1    large egg


 ½  tsp. mirin

 ¼  tsp. salt

 ½  tsp. usukuchi (light colored) soy sauce (or ¼ tsp. soy sauce)

 2 ginkgo nuts (precooked)

4 thin slices Kamaboko (fish cake) (I use Naruto today)

4 mitsuba (Japanese wild parsley) stems

* You can add other seasonal ingredients


 1. Make dashi stock.

2. Remove the shrimp shell if necessary and devein.  Marinate shrimp in cooking sake.  If you use chicken, cut into small pieces (so it cooks faster) and marinate it in cooking sake.

3. Clean the matsutake mushroom with damp towel or paper towel.  Do not wash the mushroom.  Cut into thin slices.

4. Whisk the egg in a medium bowl, but do not create air pockets.  Add dashi stock and Seasonings.  Then strain the mixture through a sieve into another bowl.

5. Start boiling water.  The amount of water should cover ½ of chawanmushi cup.  When boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest heat.

6. Divide all the ingredients into 2 cups.  I started with one shrimp, ginkgo nuts, and matsutake mushroom.  Then put naruto, the other shrimp, and mitsuba on top (the colorful ingredients should be near the top of cup).  Tie mitsuba’s stem into a knot.

7. 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).

8. Place gently inside the hot water (it should NOT be “boiling”) and cover the pot’s lid.  Cook for 25-30 minutes on the lowest heat.  If you are not adding shrimp or chicken, the cooking time should only be 15-20 minutes.  Insert a skewer in the center of the cup to check if the egg is done. Enjoy!

** Substitutes

Matsutake: Matsutake mushroom is very distinct mushroom and it’s impossible to substitute the flavor and fragrance IF you want to have Matsutake.  There is no similar mushroom in taste/fragrance.  However, you can make it like Japanese mushroom rice, adding Eringi (King Oyster Mushroom), Shiitake mushrooms, Shimeji, etc.  But I have to say it’s not the same thing.
For other substitutes: 
Mirin: sake/dry sherry/chinese rice wine + sugar (3:1 ratio)
Ginko nuts: This can be simply optional, not a must.  Typical Chawanmushi has usually ginko nuts but it doesn’t add so much flavor that it’s just one expected item that I don’t know why it’s always there… :-)
Kamaboko: How about immitation crab?  We just want to add something red/pink color.  Is Immitation crab also hard to find?
Mitsuba: I found watercress as substitute on internet…hmmm… texture is different.  I’d add other green items like spinach since we just want to add something green to add the color.

Where to find ingredients in Dubai:

Thanks to our friends at Fooderati Arabia, we have been able to find possible sources for the ingredients of this lovely authentic Japanese dish that Nami has prepared for us:
  • Mirin and other Japanese food stash at Deans Fujiya near Lamcy Plaza
  • There used to be a Korean grocery upstairs from Safestway but it has moved to SZ rd next to “just kidding” not sure if its open yet though!
  • I’d think 1004 Japanese – Korean mart here in barsha has some of those ingredients :)
  • Deans (Oud Metha) and 1004 Mart (Barsha) are your best bets.
  •  Fujiya behind lamcy. Best place. Or olso check out choithrams at hayat regency galleries
Asian Market, although you can find most at spinney’s as well. Choithram usually have Asian products that are hard to find elsewhere
  • Sources, Abigail Caidoy, Nausheen Noor, Didi Patermo, Sandy Dang,  Elena Jbara, Dima Sharif


  1. says

    Wow!!! I am a big fan of Japanese cuisine myself and everything that surrounds it! I absolutely loved this recipe Nami! and i particularly appreciate that you posted some substitutes as well as places to find all the ingredients! 😉

  2. says

    That is absolutely beautiful. Quite beautiful. I shall gather these ingredients next time i am in the big city and return. i know I will love this. beautiful food allows us to celebrate our food and to eat with joy! Lovely. c

  3. says

    Love Nami, her recipes and cooking and great to discover your site by her guest post. Indeed, what a team you are on this lovely blog. I would so love to try these matsutake mushrooms – they sound sensational and presented this way is nothing short of perfection.

  4. says

    Hey Nami good to see you over here! This is such a lovely recipe. Thanks Chef and Steward for inviting Nami to your blog she is truly amazing.

  5. lyntrinix says

    Hi Kari & Chef Lij! Nice to know the both of you! :)
    Awesome guest post with mouth-watering photos (as always) both of you had! I’m a big fan of Just One Cookbook from the first day. My family and I simply LOVE all of Nami’s delicious recipes! Hope you have a great week ahead! 😀

  6. says

    Love, love, love… Am a huge fan of Japanese cuisine, from the freshness, to simplicity of ingredients, to the complexity of the techniques… Thank you Nami for sharing this recipe, and Thank you Chef & Steward for this amazing post :))


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