Recipe: Dashi, crab and spring vegetable chawanmushi

Recipe: Dashi, crab and spring vegetable chawanmushi

45m prep | 30m cook

Last updated

Japanese food is famed and beloved for its clean complexity, with recipes that have been honed for generations, combining exceptional ingredients in pursuit of a harmony of flavours.

It's a philosophy epitomised by dashi, a subtle but savoury stock that forms the base of soups, sauces, vinaigrettes, poaching liquids and chawanmushi; a savoury egg custard spiked with chicken, fish or whatever seasonal bounty is at its best. 

While there are dozens of dashi varieties, made by poaching a range of ingredients in gently warming water, the most ubiquitous is Awase Dashi ('Mixed dashi').

Sheets of kombu (dried kelp) are steeped in cold or gently warming water, the stock then infused with dried bonito shavings. The results are a gently oceanic, mildly smoky broth that's perfect for the seafood, mushroom and spring vegetable flavours in this delicate, delicious steamed custard.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 4 cups water
  • 10-15g sheet(s) kombu
  • 1 cup (10g) dried bonito flakes
  • 12-16 whole dried shiitake mushrooms, as small as possible
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tbsp mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 tbsp shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
  • 3 fresh, free range eggs
  • 1 tsp shoyu
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 250g pre-cooked crab meat (alternatively, use raw shelled prawns or whole raw scallops)
  • 150g fresh peas, broad beans, radish or other spring vegetable
  • Japanese pickles
  • Shichimi togarashi (red pepper and sesame seasoning)
  • Small coriander leaves


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