So, every mom has some sort of special dish they make for when you are sick. Most Americans whip out the chicken noodle soup. My mom preferred to make either rice porridge or steamed eggs. Mmm, steamed eggs. In Taiwanese, we called them “diem nung” which translated into something along the lines of dunked eggs. It’s chawanmushi in Japanese. They’re pretty much a savory custard, soft and silken and just lightly seasoned. It’s all about the texture — done properly, it jiggles when you hold it, scoops like soft tofu and melts in your mouth like the creamiest flan. I used to always ask for a big bowl of this when I was even the tiniest bit sick, trying to take advantage of the situation. If you’re a person who likes egg dishes, then give this one a try.
This is what I whipped up last night. I am currently suffering from a small cold, so I was in the mood for something warm and comforting. It’s pretty much suitable for any meal of the day, though the egginess of it would probably predispose it to be a breakfast item. Heck yes, let’s call this an Asian breakfast item and get in on some Breakfast Club action! Basic walkthrough behind the cut…
Ingredients, more or less. Well, actually, more AND less. I didn’t end up using those frozen baby shrimp because I was in the mood to have my eggs plain. I also added a couple pinches of chives at the last minute and forgot to put that in this picture. Other ingredients were used this way — 2 cups of chicken broth, 1 tsp of soy sauce, a splash of white wine (technically, you’re supposed to use sake but I forgot to get some last time we were at the Alko), and 4 eggs. A 1/2 tsp of sesame oil would probably be nice, too, but I didn’t think of that until after I’d finished eating a bowl.
A note about add-ins — this is one of those recipes where everybody has their own preference for what to add in. I’ve done the most basic version that has only eggs, broth and a bit of seasoning. As you can see, I was considering adding in baby shrimp at one point. You can also chuck in some chicken, veggies, herbs, mushrooms, seafood — whatever you feel like having. Any stuff that goes in omelets (except dairy) usually works pretty well.
Whisk your eggs until they are uniformly consistent in color.
Pour in your broth while whisking eggs. I use chicken broth most frequently because that’s what my mom used and it seems to go well with eggs, especially if you use chicken meat as an add-in. If you’re going to put in shrimp or fish, you might want to try a fish stock instead.
Add in a teaspoon of soy sauce for flavoring and mix.
Add in a bit of wine for the aroma. You’ll barely be able to tell it’s there after the steam, but it provides a nice little top note. Rice wine is best, of course. You can also add in a bit of sesame oil at this time, also for the aroma. I’d highly recommend that.
I added in a few generous pinches of chives, which are gentle yet onion-y in a very pleasant way. Green onions are good, too.
Meanwhile, put water in a saucepan or pot up to your first knuckle (about an inch) and heat it to boiling.
Bring it down to a simmer and stick in your steaming rack.
If you want to put in raw add-ins, like shrimp or chicken, put them in the bottom of the containers now before you put in the egg. Ladle the egg mixture into ramekins or custard bowls or mugs, in my case. Some sort of sturdy non-melty container that can stand being steamed for a bit. Steam for around 15 minutes, until eggs are set but still soft and jiggly.
Custards done! The yellow stuff you see on the top is some of the residue left from when I melted a cube of chicken bouillon. Try to use the liquid stuff if possible, for a smoother looking finish. If you have cooked add-ins, by the way, you can toss them on top of your eggs in the last five minutes to heat them up with the rest of the dish.
Remove the containers from the steamer and allow to cool a bit before serving, unless you like to burn your tongue. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro or some chopped green onions or whatever your add-ins of choice happen to be. Enjoy!