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Chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し)

Whenever we ask our little princess what she would like to have for dinner, the answer will invariably come back (a) Tonkichi; (b) duck rice; or (c) any rice-veg-meat combo. I think you can see the trend. She is definitely a rice eater.

We have been visiting Tonkichi so often that the staff could recognise us immediately and know what is our usual. Good or bad? So far it has been more good than bad. Let's hope it stays this way.

At Tonkichi, our little princess has learnt to partake her meal with more fanciful add-ons. She would ask for an upgrade of her soup from plain miso to tonjiru (basically miso soup still but with added gobo (burdock), carrots, raddish, konnyaku (taro gelatin) and pork slices thrown in) as well as adding a serving of chawanmushi. I am eyeing the situation carefully and suspecting that she will probably eat us out of our house when she hits another growth spurt. Child rearing is expensive business.

In theory, chawanmushi is simply an easy dish to prepare. In practice, chawanmushi is simply an easy dish to prepare, too. So, what's the catch?

The catch: control of the steam.

Now, if you had been following me for a long time, four years to be exact, you would know that this is my second attempt at making chawanmushi. My first try produced horribly pock-marked custards. I remember they were slightly tough and rubbery too. So I was quite apprehensive to try again since.

But somehow, I don't quite know when, my culinary mental block started to clear. Something akin to one with a blocked artery and had undergone a stent procedure. I start to get better results on what I make. Maybe it comes with more hands-on cooking? Or maybe part of the Malcom Gladwell's 10,000-hour-to-be-good-at-something theory? Maybe it was as simple as being able to follow instructions more closely? Whatever it is, keep it coming.

I kept the flame down to medium-low to produce steady gently steam. As the chawanmushi cooks, it transformed from watery looking to a silken tofu-like surface. No bubbles. No pock-marks. Happiness.

The recipe is the same as my first attempt from The Japanese Kitchen.

Can I consider myself redeemed as far as making of chawanmushi is concerned?


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