Chawan Mushi (茶碗蒸し), or Egg Custard with Shrimp and Peas


Beautiful, uncomplicated, healthy, nourishing and luscious. Most of you will not be surprised if I add it is a Japanese dish I’m talking about. On the other hand, those who associate Japanese cuisine with sushi, seaweed and miso soup, would certainly be in awe if they tasted Chawan Mushi, one of the most universally enjoyable Japanese dishes.

Chawan Mushi (茶碗蒸し) was the first recipe I made from “The Japanese Cooking. A Simple Art” by Shizuo Tsuji. I was offered it a year and half ago, but I still consider this as the most extraordinary cookery book in my life (actually, apart from testing more than a dozen recipes I have read this book at least three times!). As soon as I prepared my first Chawan Mushi, I posted it, but when, later, I saw the gorgeous Chawan Mushi on Nami’s blog (Just One Cookbook), I felt really ashamed and quickly deleted my hideous photo together with the text. I have completely forgotten to repost it, even though I prepared this dish regularly. Yesterday, I finally felt brave enough to take new shots and even though it might not be the best-looking Chawan Mushi, I decided to present you once more this extraordinary dish.

Chawan Mushi belongs to the mushimono (蒸し物), or steamed Japanese dishes family, and could be described as a seasoned stock and egg mixture combined with different ingredients. It is served hot or cold depending on the weather and preferences. The most popular version seems to include, among others, shrimp and mushrooms, but Shizuo Tsuji  affirms that the savoury egg custard basis is the only obligatory part of this dish and modifications are more than welcome. I have already made Chawan Mushi with different ingredients and it was excellent every single time because the basic mixture is quite versatile. It can also be served practically at any time of the day: for breakfast, with a green salad for a light lunch, as a starter or as a light, but nourishing snack. Since sweet peas start to appear on the markets, I thought they would look nice in the yellow custard, combined with shrimp. In fact, not only did they look nice, but, most of all, they this Chawan Mushi tasted great served both hot and cold.

TIPS:  Even though Chawan Mushi is easier to prepare in a steamer, Shizuo Tsuji’s suggestion to use a water bath in the oven gives excellent results. Actually this is the way I prepare it because my steamer is too low for my heatproof cups.

If you don’t have a nearby Japanese grocery shop, individual, but high heatproof cups may be difficult to get. I have found very good ones at IKEA (even though without lids).

Mitsuba is the traditional herb served with Chawan Mushi (it is usually steamed on the top of the custard), but you can add any herb of your choice, but if you’re not sure how it will taste baked, sprinkle the dish with it just before serving. (Chives are a very good option).

Special equipment:

individual heatproof cups (at least 6 cm high, mine were 6,5 cm high,with a 7,5 cm diameter)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Ingredients (4 portions):

15 medium shrimp (deveined, shelled and boiled)

200 g green peas (fresh or frozen), blanched

mitsuba leaves or another herb of your choice, such as chives 


2 eggs

300 ml dashi (Japanese stock) or chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mirin

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 220°C (or prepare your steamer).

Divide the shrimp and the green peas equally into five heatproof cups.

Put mitsuba leaves on top (click here  to see how Nami ties them in a cute traditional way).

Boil a lot of water and prepare a big baking dish at least as high as the heatproof cups.

Mix the eggs very delicately in a bowl. In another bowl combine the dashi (or chicken stock), salt, mirin and soy sauce. Pour the stock mixture over the eggs and stir well, without beating. Strain it and pour into the garnished cups. Cover the cups with aluminium foil or the lids if you have special cups with lids.

Place the cups in a big baking dish. Fill the dish with hot water (not boiling). The water should arrive up till 3/4 of the cups’ height.

Put the dish in the oven and let the custards bake for 30 minutes.

If you use a steamer, steam for about 20 minutes.

If you use chives, sprinkle chawan mushi with them just before serving.

Serve hot or cold with bread/toast for breakfast, with a salad for a lunch, as a snack or as a starter.

You may serve it with soy sauce to pour over the custard. Personally I think it is not necessary.

Even though the eggs’ mixture sets during the cooking process, the mushrooms or other vegetables might release juices, so think about putting a spoon on the table!

60 Replies to “Chawan Mushi (茶碗蒸し), or Egg Custard with Shrimp and Peas”

  1. This would be a great recipe to serve at a weekend brunch! It’s lovely and fresh. I am not familiar with mitsuba leaves so I may have to search for a suitable substitution. Nice work!

    1. Thank you so much, Tessa. I think chawan mushi is great also sprinkled before serving with spring onions or chives.

  2. Sissi, your photo looks beautiful as usual, I think we all feel in awe with Nami’s photography, though I’ve always found yours to be beautiful as well, so definitely no need to compare!

    I have always wanted to give this a try, my Mom used to make something similar, though in family style, which means it was in a large bowl. I can still taste the “Umami”!

    Have a good weekend!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. You are so sweet and kind to say this 🙂 Your mum’s custard sounds very intriguing! You should post it one day! Have a lovely weekend too.

  3. It is indeed a very beautiful dish, and making 5 portions with only two eggs it is a very healthy dish. I wonder what mitsuba leaves taste similar too? It looks like a beautiful luncheon dish. And the photo is lovely too.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. It is amazing because it still looks yellow and “eggy”, doesn’t it? In fact the traditional recipe calls for 3 x more liquid then eggs volume. I have added less liquid and it still yields 5 portions! I suppose it’s even good to people who have to watch their cholesterol level. Mitsuba is not similar to anything. I usually substitute it with other herbs which taste great with eggs (chives, spring onions or dill), but they don’t taste similar.

      1. Sissi, in your recipe, you write:

        “Divide the shrimp and the green peas equally into two heatproof cups.”

        Did you MEAN 5 heatproof cups cause I got confused by that and the “Ingredients (5 portions)” you wrote earlier. I did wonder why there was so much custard in my ramekins. 🙂

        1. Oh, my…. I’m so so so sorry… I don’t know what made me write “two” in the recipe. It does make 5 portions. I don’t know what to say. I am correcting this horrible mistake at once. I should really reread my texts several times. I hope I haven’t destroyed your meal plans because of this silly but serious mistake. (On the other hand I did have “water” problems as I have just written with my 5 cups too.). I hope you will forgive me 🙁

            1. You are so kind… I have just noticed another mistake… Shame on me. It was really badly written. It scares me to death and makes me very angry with myself to think you might have had your meal spoiled because of my lack of attention. Thank you for the kind words! I will certainly pay more attention in the future. I promise.

              1. I’ve made typing mistakes in my recipe posts as well, especially when I am combining a couple of recipes or writing out recipes that I have developed off the cuff. You post SO many recipes that I’m sure you have a lot less time than I do to do multiple proofs.

                Thank you again for sharing all these interesting recipes.

                1. Thank you again for the kind words. I think I will slowly reread and correct my previous posts. I got really scared and ashamed. Even when I prepare a dish from a cookery book, like this one, I never copy even single sentences, so I have probably mixed up here what I read and what I wrote about. Not to mention my own inventions…

  4. A wonderful light meal. It reminds me a bit of the baked dish “eggs en cocotte” though that uses whole eggs and a splash of cream rather than making a custard. I’d love to try it out with the mitsuba leaves but, as you suggested chives as a substitute, I’m sure it’s doable this summer.

    1. Than you, A_Boleyn. Yes, it’s similar in texture, but definitely lighter in both taste and nutritional values. Chives are great here simply sprinkled over the dish just before it’s served.

        1. Hi, A_Boleyn. Thank you for the link! Your chawan mushi looks gorgeous. I’m so happy you like it. Thank you for testing my recipe. I also have had water issues. I think it’s the shrimp and/or vegetables that render juices…

  5. This is similar to the Chinese steamed eggs, velvety texture and delicious. I sometimes make it in a pie dish instead of individual cups.

    1. Hi Norma. Jeno has already mentioned the Chinese dish. I’m even more intrigued now!

  6. Chawanmushi is a favorite of my daughter’s, and just like you, she says that she likes the main part of chawanmushi, that is, the egg custard, and other ingredients are really optional.

    From a cook’s point of view, chawanmushi is rather cumbersome to make (if you want to make authentic one with ginko nuts, some chicken, prawn, mitsuba, etc.) but it can never be a main dish (in Japanese cuisine).

    1. Hiroyuki, I’m able to have leftover maki for my breakfast the following day, so there is no problem in adapting Chawan Mushi to any course, meal or time of the day 😉
      If I Westernise it and serve with a green salad and bread it makes a great lunch.
      I have never even tasted ginko nuts… and as you say the traditional version proposed in Shizuo Tsuji’s book has a long list of ingredients…

      1. Sissi, I appreciate being able to adapt the chawan mushi to more western tastes and reduce the ingredients since, as someone new to traditional Japanese cooking, I would be intimidated by seeing a long list of ingredients especially when a number of them are not available here in Canada.

        The adapted recipe gives me the courage to try the dish using substitutions like chives/dill instead of the mitsuba and then, if I am interested in expanding my cooking, I can attempt to source the other ingredients. I wonder if you could substitute cashew nuts for the ginko nuts. 🙂

        1. Mitsuba is absolutely not necessary here. I have even made Chawan Mushi with chicken stock instead of dashi and it was really good. I have never had ginko nuts in my life, so I cannot advise you any substitution…

  7. Sissi, what a beautiful picture. You did an excellent job to tell the story about chawanmushi and how we should be eating this dish. Not just this recipe, but others recipes of yours always explain very well about the food, for people who are not familiar with the dish. Thank you so much for the mention Sissi. Honestly you shouldn’t have deleted your original post! I have so many posts that I want to delete too… hehehe. This one is a superb recipe. So pretty!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. Your compliment means really a lot! It’s easy to explain because I’m quite a recent fan of Japanese cuisine, so I have to get information for myself too 😉 I will never be able to make such beautiful chawan mushi as yours (not to mention the photos). Have you seen my mitsuba leaves? They got so dark and look completely dead… Nothing in common with yours.

      1. Dear Sissi,

        This is a beautiful dish and I saw one of the most beautiful interpretation of this iconic Japanese dish on Nami’s blog. Seriously, her version would put the chawan mushi of many Japanese restaurants to shame.

        It is such an elegant dish and I believe this is one where you can be as simple or as decadent as you like with seafood such as scallops, prawns and exotic mushrooms.

    1. Thank you so much, Barb. If you have an occasion, take a look at this book. Although I must warn you: it’s big, but photos are rare (I usually love richly illustrated cookery books but it’s one of the rare exceptions).

  8. Ooohh … another favorite Japanese must-have! This looks beautifully made and the colors are very appetizing.
    Not even the good restaurants make this right. I went to one fancy one and their Chawan Mushi could literally bounce off the floor …. it’s that hard! I think I mentioned to you there’s this mom and pop place near me that makes good stuff? They have so far, in my opinion and some of my friends, the best Chawan Mushi. Lucky me! But I’ll want to make this at home some time and you can be sure this recipe will be used. Thanks for this, Sissi!

    1. Thank you so much, Ping. Yes, I remember how lucky you are with this small restaurant.

  9. What a lovely and light dish! Interesting combination of an egg custard and shrimp. Sounds wonderful and perfect for warmer weather!

  10. Hi Sissi, your photo is beautiful – the contrasting colors of green and orange of the ingredients caught my eye and made my mouth water straight away. I have to say I’m quite a novice to Japanese cooking, although I enjoy eating it out so I thoroughly enjoyed your post!

    1. Thank you, Martyna. I am glad you like the colours. I thought green peas, shrimp and egg custard looked joyful.

  11. The CHinese have a very similar version, just simply called steamed eggs, which is done in a shallow bowl instead, hence I just steam. I love it. Love silky custardy textures. One of my problems with making chawanmushi was also the low steamer, so I’m chuffed to find this method of doing it in a waterbath in the oven! Brilliant sissi!

    (btw that is a beautiful photo sissi, no shame there!)

    1. Hi Shu Han. Thank you so much for the compliments. Photos really are the most difficult part of blogging for me… Ping and Norma have just mentioned this custard too. I really must try it one day. You know, even the special Japanese custard cups are too high for my rice cooker steaming part (I don’t have a separate steamer and when I steam for example dumplings I use the rice cooker special tray), so I always prepare it in water bath.

  12. Japanese?! I had no idea you enjoyed Japanese cuisine Sissi… ;-).

    What a light and lovely meal idea full of flavour and nutrients. I just adore shrimp and seeing it swim amidst this eggy goodness brings it to a whole new level of yummy. Great inspiration Sissi.

    1. Haha! Thank you so much, Kelly. Will I surprise you if I say there are more Japanese dishes to come soon? 😉

  13. That’s a beautiful version of one of my favourite Japanese dishes. 🙂 Just love how smooth and easy to eat chawanmushi is. Never thought of making this in the oven over a waterbath! Fantastic idea.

    1. Thank you so much, Jenny. Unfortunately, I have to make it in the oven because my steamer plate is too low for chawan mushi cups 🙁

  14. Hi Sissi, I remember when Nami posted her chawan mushi – I must admit to having misgivings… it looks just wonderful… so pretty and colourful but I find the idea of an “egg custard” served with shrimp and peas very… er… interesting.

    I guess it’s because I can’t imagine what it must be like… a bit like a not sweet custard for desserts, is it? I will try anything at least once though… I wonder if I can find a restaurant which makes it?

    1. Thank you, Charles. I am surprised because when I saw it first it simply made me think of a smooth omelette in a cup… Maybe because I rather remembered the Japanese name than the English “custard” translation. I hope you can taste it one day at home or in a restaurant.

  15. Yum! Your chawan mushi looks amazing! I have had chawan mushi only once, prepared at a cooking party by some exchange students visiting from Japan. Until this post, I had forgotten about this tasty dish! Thanks for sharing! I hope to try out your recipe soon!

    1. Thank you, Amber. It is not THE traditional chawan mushi (which has such ingredients as water chestnuts), but I think it’s very versatile and anything can be thrown into the delicate egg custard.

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