‘Foie-Gras Chawanmushi’ or How to Cook Japanese when you’re French and Dyslexic

No, no… i didn’t sneeze! A Chawan is a traditional Japanese cup in which this savory custard is steamed. As for the mushi … err.. well, i don’t know what mushi stands for, but it rhymes with sushi – that i’m sure! Hope that helps you, little songbirds.

This is an absolutely scandalous version of Chawanmushi because the addition of foie-gras is well – not very Japanese, isn’t it? It’s an invention of Iron-chef Morimoto, who should be renamed Mori-wicked for coming up with dishes like these. This is decadent hedonism in a cup my friends, take a deep breath and get ready to enter the zone…

This wachashimu… shi.. shichawamu.. i mean.. cha.. Chawanmushi is beyond luxurious and requires a little bit of Zen in the making because it cannot (and shouldn’t) be rushed. It’s your lucky day because i am Zenchef, the incarnation of calm and serenity [!], and i will guide you through the process of making this chihuahua without loosing your sanity or worse… your mojo’.

You are safe with me my friends.

Let me deconstruct this shimuwancha for you. It’s made of the following components:

  • Shanton Broth
  • Foie gras
  • Eggs
  • Dashi-Mirin sauce
  • Roasted Duck
  • A touch of grated wasabi

The Shanton broth is a rich meat stock made from beef, pork and chicken bones. Some dried longans, citrus peel and peppercorns are added halfway through the cooking time to give it a light sweetness. It’s then blended with fresh foie gras, a few eggs and here you have it.. a Foie-Gras milkshake! Don’t drink that stuff without putting yourself on life support first. Actually no, don’t drink it. The idea is to have a batter that’s the opposite of a milkshake in texture. No bubbles allowed. Think smooth, not foamy.

The Foie-Gras custard is then poured in a chawan, ramekin or whatever you want except your Grandma’s china (think small portions because it’s so rich) and it’s covered and steamed in a bain-marie until lightly set.

A sauce made from sweetened sake (mirin), dashi, light soy sauce and thickened with a little bit of cornstarch is poured over the top. The wamuchashi is then garnished with thin slices of roasted duck, chives and a touch of grated wasabi and enjoyed immediately.

Don’t forget that the simple and elegant presentation of this dish enhances the pleasure of your guests. A small detail, the lacquered wooden spoon is perfect for enjoying the silky texture of the custard.

The consultation is over. You can put your clothes back on.

Itada Kimasu!

Foie Gras Chawanmushi

(makes 4 to 6 servings)

Recipe adapted from Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking

For the shanton broth:

  • 1 lb fresh ham, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb pork neck bones
  • 1 ln beef shin
  • 2 teaspoons dried longans
  • 2 pieces dried citrus skin
  • 8 black peppercorns

For the dashi:

  • 1 piece dashi Kombu, 4 by 6 inches
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup packed bonito flakes

For the Chawanmushi:

  • 2 cups Shanton broth
  • 8 ounces fresh foie gras, at room temp’
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup Dashi
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons light-colored soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh wasabi
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced chives

For the shanton broth:

  • Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby.
  • Add the ham an cook until the water comes back to a boil. Transfer the ham to the ice water to cool down immediately. Repeat this operation with the chicken, pork bones and beef shin. This step removes blood and excess fat from the meat and helps create a clear stock.
  • Rinse the meat in a colander, place in a clean stockpot and add fresh water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to the top. Simmer for 2 hours.
  • Add the longan, citrus peel and peppercorns and continue simmering for 2 hours longer. Strain the stock and reserve.

For the dashi:

  • The night before, or a few hour before making dashi, soak the piece of kombu in the filtered water. When ready to proceed, bring water to a simmer over medium heat. When it reaches a boil, remove from the heat and add the bonito flakes. Let stand until the bonito flakes sink to the bottom of the saucepan, about 15 minutes. Strain the dashi through a sieve and reserve.

For the Chawanmushi:

  • Preheat the oven to 350’F.
  • Place the Shanton broth and foie gras in a blender. Add a large pinch of salt and white pepper. Blend for about 20 seconds, until smooth. Add the eggs, one at the time and pulse briefly after each addition. The eggs should be thoroughly combined without creating a great deal of foam; do not overprocess.
  • Strain the foie-gras custard through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Ladle the custard into four to six custard cups. Place them in a baking pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the cups. Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil (or if using Chawan cups, put the lid on).
  • Bake the custards for 12 to 15 minutes, until they are set in the center.
  • While the custards are baking, make the sauce. Combine the Dashi, mirin, and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Whisk the dissolved cornstarch and bring to a boil, whisking until thickened. Remove from the heat.
  • Carefully remove each custard cup from the water bath. Place on a serving plate, spoon 1 or 2 tablespoons of sauce over each custard and sprinkle grated wasabi and minced chives. Serve immediately.
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  • Pearl

    i think you and i should get married. just so that i can marvel over your presence in the kitchen. :)

  • foodhuntress79

    Shibaraku deshita ne – no blog? Gochiso sama deshita Zen Chef. Domo sumimasen. Ogenki desu ka?

  • ila

    good gawd, that looks delicious. chawanmushi itself is so difficult for me! (it always separates funny)
    as for the meaning, chawan mushi means ‘steamed in bowl’ – chawan = bowl, mushi = steamed. hope that halps :)

  • Jeremy

    I worked with Morimoto at the Sony Club years ago, great chef! You sure know how to pour on the high priced stuff, foie etc, during the low times, hell it’s just food right?

  • doggybloggy

    Heaven, Im in heaven
    And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
    And I seem to find the happiness I seek…..

  • Manggy

    I’m sorry, when did I take my clothes off? Ha ha ha. Wicked indeed, Zen-man, and decadent as always. I’m not yet lucky to have tasted foie gras (I thought it had become illegal, hmmm), but I would gladly accept that little cup of wonderfulness you’ve prepared :)

  • Stacey Snacks

    Ok, I am impressed now.
    I had no idea……..

    Making something from Stohrer Patisserie today in the 2e. Do you know this place?

    Foie Gras not on the menu today!

  • Colloquial Cook

    C’est joli ces feuilles de shiso sous les cuillers. Mais… Attends… Tu as foodstylé ton plat?? Bon, ça passe pour cette fois, mais qu’on ne vous y reprenne plus.

  • Manger La Ville

    This sounds really incredible, a true labor of love but an outstanding combination. I like the idea of using foie gras and sliced duck breast. I would love to try.

  • Gloria

    Absolutely nice Zen how ever, xxxxxGloria

  • Darius T. Williams

    YOu’re just absolutely hilarious – and this looks super good@

  • glamah16

    That is freakin incredible.Send me bowl nestled in someones private jet now please?

  • Emily

    Mmm, this sounds very, very good.
    Thanks for the education!

  • Elra

    Hi Chef,
    This look incredibly tempting and delicious too. It seems like such a long process to make it, but I guess it’s really worth the effort.

  • Zen Chef

    Pearl, done deal! :-)

    Foodhuntress, domo arigato! Ha!..

    Ila, thank you for clarifying. I knew i could count on you on everything Japanesy.

    Jeremy, I love the Morimoto. And i WANT that gig at the Sony club. $$$

    Doggy, You’re freakin’ me out!

    Manggy, Foie-Gras.. illegal? Not as long as i live!! hehe. I’ll get you some when you’re in NY. :-)

    Stacey, yes! Stohrer is great. I use to live a block away. Whattya making? I love their Baba au rhum. Yum!

    Claire, Sinon ce serai un peu triste, non? Quoi, tu n’aimes pas mes talents de foodstylist? hehe

    Manger la ville, it was really incredible. I’ve been obsessed with this recipe for a while now. :-)

    Thank you Gloria!

    Thanks Darius! The funny wasn’t intentional. hehe.

    Courtney, it’s on it’s way. It will be parachuted over your house around midnight. Don’t miss it! :-)

    You’re welcome Mademoiselle Emily.

    Elra, yes it’s bit long to make the stock. Worth the effort, definitely.

  • Melissa

    Nice Pictures! The food looks delishious.

  • waliz

    i’m pretty sure i can speak japanese after i try out those chawanmushi…arigato…see what i mean? i hope i can learn sumo after this…

  • white on rice couple

    This is what I call decadent, beautiful and delicious at it’s best. The step by step tutorials make it more feasable for homecooks like us! Maybe, when I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll try this.
    Until then, I’ll just lick my computer screen!
    And of course, it’s a “scandalous” dish that’ll win over all the ladies hearts.

  • Mochachocolata Rita

    my version of french – japanese version:

    sushi sushi yaya dada! sushi sushi yaya heee…mochachocolata yaya! chawanmushi marmaladeeeeeeeee…..

  • Elle

    That looks fabulous. Truly gorgeous! Do you deliver?

  • Catherine Wilkinson

    Oh, Good Lord of the Goose Liver!
    This is amazing, and I think even I, a mere culinary crackpot, could do this! Of course, I’d need an ambien….

  • TavoLini

    hahaha Chef Mori-WICKED!

    Looks good, Zen :)

  • Heather

    Man, that sounds like a foodgasm waiting to happen. Leave it to Morimoto to think of this. And leave it to you to pull it off so effortlessly.

  • Peter M

    Stephane, the foie is easy, the real talent is in the making of the broth and the brilliance is the combo of east and west…marveilleuse mon ami.

  • AzAzura

    wow Zen ! your chawanmushi looks great!

  • acey

    i love this! your version sounds better and looks nicer, though. hehehe. i just love love LOVE you, zenman. you know that, right? 😀

  • The Short (dis)Order Cook

    Now that’s a dish that’s truly a labor of love. That was a lot of work getting together all of those components and putting them together so beautifully.

    But I guess that’s the way one should prepare one’s last meal (well, with that foie gras custard and duck, it could very well be your last meal).

    With those decadent ingredients, I’d say pronounciation no longer matters. Just eat it!

  • Big Boys Oven

    this is awesome awesome delicious, west meet east, finishing the year with style, lets toast for 2009!

  • Olga

    gosh, you make complicated dishes!
    I would just open a box for matzo ball soup, add some frozen vegetables and be done :)

    should I be ashamed I’ve never had foie-gras?

  • Mike of Mike’s Table

    I didn’t fully appreciate this until I read through everything that goes into it. My reaction now: holy crap that must have been awesome!

  • Chicopea

    I am so digging the name of this dish and will try to sing it in the shower! What a nice treat on a cold, wet day like this.

  • dirtykitchensecrets

    Oh my! How divine! I looooove Foie Gras! It’s definitely on my xmas menu every year… which i have just posted on my blog actually… Joyeux Noel zen chef x

  • peter

    I don’t have time to make the broth today, but I will make a version of these for dinner tonight since my wife doesn’t feel very good. Thanks for the post.

    And every time I come here the captcha sounds French: “entioner.” Do you pay Google extra for that?

  • Christina

    I’ve never had foie gras before, but if it’s like this then I definitely want to try it once before I die!

  • We Are Never Full

    this is jaw-dropping… why does morimoto and thinking about even trying any of his recipes scare me? i just feel like i would serioulsy mess up. this looks awesome.

  • Dhanggit

    what a fantastic idea! I’ll definitely put this on my “reveillon menu”! Thanks zenman :-)

  • jesse

    I would strangle a baby for a cup of that mushi. Move to Oxford already!!!!

  • Chicken And Waffles

    I am feeling dizzy. Or is it salmonalia fumes? Raw fish and goose liver and great balls of fire. Hell, I’d eat it.

  • Parker

    You did a great job, the little bowls are so cute.

  • Clumbsy Cookie

    Are you sure you haven’t sneezed? I’ll be honest with you I don’t know if I ever could bring myself to do that, but I’m sure if you do it for me I could bring myself to eat it 😉

  • Zen Chef

    Thanks Melissa.

    Waliz, yes you might want to learn sumo after eating this.

    White on Rice.. licking your computer screen is yeek!! hehe

    Rita, did you have too much chocolate.. again!?

    Elle, i parachute only!

    Catherine, culinary crackpot.. hahaha. Take 2 Ambien!

    Thanks Tavo.. or is it Lini?

    Heather, i think the word foodgasm should be in the dictionary.

    Peter, how do you say ‘pretty damn good’ in Greek?

    Thanks Azura!

    Acey, really.. me?

    Rachel, i had a few meals after this one. I guess i’m a survivor!

    Thanks Big Boys Oven! Cheers!

    Olga, yes you should be ashamed! Drive up to NY!

    Mike, i know it looks innocent. But it packs a punch!

    Chicopea.. ahaha.. sing it!

    Bethany.. weehh.. am i invited?

    Peter, no i didn’t pay them but Google can ‘sense’ that i am French. haha

    Christina, once you try it once, you’ll be hooked!

    We are never full, it’s not that hard to pull off but I don’t know how Morimoto thinks of these things.

    Dhanggit.. no ..Thank YOU!

    Jesse, i bet babies are.. err.. tender! okay.. that’s wrong! hehe

    C&W.. it’s the salmonella fumes emanating from this blog.

    Thanks Parker!

    Rita! I trade you chawanmushi for ice cream. You know i have a soft spot when it comes to ice cream.

  • gaga

    OMG, how decadent! Can you say fusion? I love it!

  • cook eat FRET

    when you marry me, this is what i want to eat every sunday morning…

  • Lance

    Oh my Goodness, Looks delicious. This dish is going onto the list of experimentations for sure!

  • Oscarkindblad

    haha noone got this