Monday, October 15, 2007

Savory egg custard - so smooth and silky !

Egg is one of the most versatile ingredients in my opinion. Baking aside, eggs play a critical role in a lot of savory cooking. They can be used hardboiled in Sambal, Masalas and in curries like Lontong. Egg-based gravies are also popular in Chinese and especially Cantonese cuisine - talk about the famous Wat Dan (literally meaning - smooth silky eggs) in Wat Dan Hor ~ Rice noodles in seafood and egg gravy. Eggs can also be used as coatings/batter for tonkatsu and begedil, as "mystery" ingredients in curry puffs and chicken pie/strudel; of course as comforting as a sunnyside up or an omelette - plain(kosong) or filled with your favorite ingredients such as this, this and this.

I almost forgotten another of my favorites - Chawanmushi, 茶碗蒸, literally meaning - steamed in a tea bowl. Usually served as an appetizer in Japanese cuisine, this egg is a custard egg mixture typically flavored with soy sauce, dashi, and mirin; with ingredients such as mushroom, ginkgo and shrimp (sometimes "fake crab meat).



Minus the dashi and mirin, steamed egg is in fact also found in Chinese cuisine. However, this is seldom(or never?) served in Chinese restaurants and usually homemade seen on the family's dinner table. In Singapore, we get to eat this dish in some of the hawker stalls selling mixed-rice (equivalent to the lunch-plate in the United States where one plate is filled with rice + 3 other dishes - either all meat, 2 meat+1 veg, 1 meat+2veg or all veg). Unlike Chawanmushi, the Chinese steamed egg is flavored with soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper, with added ingredients such as ground pork.

It is usually said in some Chinese cuisine that the simpler the dish, or the simpler the ingredients, the more dedication is required in cooking (the process) and this sometimes tests the skills of the cook/chef and quality of the ingredients. In my opinion, steamed egg is one dish that allows eggs to shine as the star, and test your patience/meticulousness in the cooking process. Don't forget, the October theme in Click is Eggs. Join in the fun.

I did not really prepare a 100% chawanmushi (since my pantry does not keep Japanese seasoning like dashi and mirin) so what I am going to do is more Chinese-style savory steamed egg custard - using eggs as my main ingredient and a lil' chicken stock flavoring.



Savory egg custard (for 1 serving)
Ingredients:
1 egg (Note: I chose to use quality organic cage-free egg since the ingredients used are few and basic)
1/8 cup chicken stock (not more than half of the quantity of beaten egg mixture)
bunashimeiji mushrooms, a countable few

Directions:
1. Whisk egg well, and sieve to remove any remaining egg white strands
2. Add chicken stock to the beaten egg mixture. Stir to combine and DO NOT whisk again
3. Add mushroom to custard mixture
4. Steam over simmering fire or heat (DO NOT boil) till custard sets
5. Serve with a dash of sesame oil on top

Ingredients and directions may sound easy but there are really a few critical steps(1. , 2 and 4.) you need to take note of in order not to overcook the steamed custard. And you get smooth and silky savory egg custard.



Light and satisfying!

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