Tofu Steamed Savory Custard

Chawan-mushi, savory custard, is the ultimate steamed Japanese dish. While cooking, it is very important to keep the heat low for a nice, smooth finish.

Tofu Steamed Savory Custard
Photographed by Hideo Sawai

Recipe by
Yoshiharu Doi


Beans & Tofu





Calorie count is for full recipe


  • 1 block momen-tofu (300 g)

    Tofu which has been compressed to take away the moisture. Its firm texture makes it ideal for cooking.

  • 1 egg
  • 150 ml dashi

    Japanese soup stock. Made with a lot of different ingredients, most commonly kombu kelp and bonito flakes.

  • [Nori seaweed paste]

    • 2 sheets grilled nori seaweed (whole)
    • 250 ml dashi

      See the preparations section for details.

    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 1/2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil



In a pot, combine 1,200 ml of water, a 10-cm squared piece of kombu kelp, and 30 g of bonito flakes. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 1 min, then strain out the solids to make about 1 liter of dashi.



In a bowl, beat the egg, then mix in the dashi and salt.


Pour 1 tbsp of sesame oil into a separate wide, shallow bowl that you will use to steam the custard, then add the tofu and gently break up slightly.


Adding sesame oil will give the finished result more depth to its flavor. Make sure to use a heat-resistant bowl that is small enough to fit into the frying pan while the bowl is covered.


Pour the seasoned egg into the wide, shallow bowl.


Fill a deep frying pan with water to a depth about 1/3 the height of the wide, shallow bowl, then bring the water to a boil. Spread a tea towel out over the surface of the water, then gently place the bowl on top of it. Cover the bowl and steam for about 20 min over low heat.


Maintain the heat at a level that keeps the surface of the water just barely rippling. If the water comes to a simmer, you can slightly offset the lid to let some steam out to adjust the temperature inside. Using the tea towel helps keep the bowl stable.


Prepare the nori seaweed paste: In a pot, combine the dashi and the nori seaweed, torn up, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add soy sauce and pour potato starch that has been dissolved in an equal volume of water evenly over top, and stir to thicken.


Top the steamed savory custard with the nori seaweed paste and serve.