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My mom had an egg poacher that was a metal pan with a metal tray and removable cups. I recently found a tray with 4 indentations to be placed into any 10 - 12 inch fry pan. The pan is filled with enough water to serve as a kind of double boiler, making steam to heat the egg mixture. With chawanmushi cups the water does come up to about 1/2 way of the cup, but with the poacher that is not necessary. The recipe is the same for both, and it's the cooking time that differs. The cup takes longer because the mixture is deeper and it is eaten from the cup. The poacher is quicker because shallower and the egg is removed from the poacher (I put it on toast) I find chawanmushi style steamed eggs to be very satisfying. It's also healthy. The ingredients can be varied according to what is on hand. I put in the ingredients just 1 of each thing because the numbers are very flexible and it's just to give a list of the possibilities. The filling ingredients are placed in the cups separately from the egg mixture. The egg mixture is the liquids stirred together and then poured on top of the other ingredients.
- 1 egg
- 1 slice mushroom
- 1 slice tofu, 1/2-inch thickness by 1-inch
- 1 slice imitation crabmeat (also known as surimi)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon green onions or 1⁄2 teaspoon chives, chopped
- shrimp, precooked, peeled sliced in half lengthwise (just one)
- 1 small piece cooked chicken
- 1 slice water chestnut
- 1 teaspoon tomato, finely diced
- 1⁄2 teaspoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon dashi
- 1⁄4 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1⁄2 teaspoon tomato sauce (optional)
- Place the item in the bottom of the steamer pot, or pan, that is to keep the cups off the bottom, if necessary.
- Pour enough hot water to cover the bottom of the pan that is to serve as a steamer and place it on the stove, or fill pot high enough to set the chawanmushi custard cups 1/2 way into the water.
- Grease the cups with either a bit of oil or a bit of butter.
- Cut and slice selected fillers into small enough thin slices to fit well into the size cup. (One egg with filler will take up two poacher cups or one chawanmushi custard cup.).
- Put egg(s) into a bowl, and add the mirin, soy sauce, and dashi.
- Stir until evenly mixed. Some like it that the egg mixture is gently stirred to make a smooth custard texture. I like to beat it and get air in it.
- Arrange the selected items on the bottom of the cup(s). Some of the items will float to the top while cooking.
- Turn the heat on the water until it starts to boil.
- While the water is heating up, pour the egg mixture over the selected items. (Each cup should be about 2/3 filled.).
- Place the cups into the steamer, not letting the bottom of the cups touch the bottom of the pan, but like a double boiler. Chawanmushi cups are set on a rack that keeps them off the bottom. Chawanmushi lids are put on with a little rolled up piece of paper towel tucked so as to lift the lid up just enough for air to circulate.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer.
- The cooking time varies according to the starting temp of the ingredients and the depth of the mixture. I let it simmer undisturbed for 5 minutes, and then check frequently. To test for doneness insert a toothpick, and if it comes out clean it is done. If the egg mixture has been beaten then it may puff up when cooking.
- Chawanmushi cups are removed carefully, as the cups are partially submerged in very hot water, and then the cups are placed on saucers and served like a custard.
- Poached eggs are removed from the poacher with a spatula, sliding it around the edges. These can be served on toast.
- A topping can be used if desired, like a bit of tomato sauce, or any other.