This delicious, silky custard can be served as a side dish with grilled and deep fried foods, or as a main dish all by itself. The secret to making this dish is in allowing it to steam until the egg just barely sets, giving the custard a silky, liquid quality.

Chawan Mushi

4 Eggs
2 cups dashi
3/4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 tsp sake
1 1/4 tablespoon mirin
3 onces of fresh spinach leaves (parboiled)
4 small uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 shiitake mushrooms (stemmed and quartered)

1. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the dashi, salt, shoyu, and mirin, beat well. Allow the mixture to stand for a few minutes and then strain through a fine strainer (the objective here is to remove all air bubbles and lumps from the egg mixture). In 4 individual heat proof custard cups with lids (or heat resistant coffee cups with saucers or foil for lids), place a shrimp, fresh spinach leaves (parboiled) and a shiitake mushroom.

2. Pour the egg mixture into each cup until two-thirds full and cover with the lid.

3. Place the cups in a preheated steamer and steam over high heat. When the surface of the custard turns white (about three minutes), reduce the heat to low and steam for an additional 15 minutes.

4. Once you are able to stick a bamboo skewer into the custard and have the liquid flowing from the puncture run clear, the custard is ready to eat! The custard surface should be moist and slick, not cracked and parched). Carefully remove the hot cups from the steamer and serve.

The Japanese make beautiful ceramic cups with lids especially for steaming this type of custard, if possible pick up a set from a local merchant or Asian food store. Also, chawan-mushi is excellent when served chilled as a summer dish!