Karen Martini's chawanmushi (savoury steamed egg custard)

Chawanmushi with prawns and chicken.
Chawanmushi with prawns and chicken. Photo: William Meppem

This Japanese savoury custard is very simple to make at home, although it leaves the distinct impression of its creator having a highly evolved skill set. The key here is to not to rush the cooking, letting the custard set slowly and only just, resulting in a silky-smooth finish, the proteins only delicately cooked. You can always use different proteins and vegies, but these are wonderful for beginners.


2 slices raw chicken breast

2 green prawns, peeled and deveined

3 shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced 3mm thick

3 tbsp podded edamame

2 spring onions (green and white parts), finely sliced

1 tsp salt flakes

2 tsp sake

For the custard

3 eggs

350ml miso soup

2 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp mirin


1. Set a steamer basket over a lightly simmering saucepan of water or set an electric steamer (rice cookers generally have a steamer basket) to a medium-low heat.

2. Whisk the custard ingredients in a medium bowl, then strain through a sieve.

3. Divide the other ingredients between two small bowls or Japanese-style teacups. Pour the custard evenly over them, skimming off any bubbles from the surface.

4. Place the cups in the steamer and cook for 10 minutes. Set aside for 2 minutes to finish setting, then serve.