Almost Wafu Chawan Mushi Spaghetti

Chawan mushi is a savory Japanese custard, smooth and as comforting as chicken noodle soup. As a noodle/pasta addict (yes I do have withdrawal symptoms when on vacation, and unable to find good pasta—but also note that medical standards do not yet accept this as a real addition), I was inspired by Shizuo Tsuji’s comment in his book Japanese Cooking: a simple art. He describes how chawan mushi can be made with ingredients beyond the most famous ginkgo nut, chicken or scallops, and shrimp version. He suggested udon and kamaboko (fishpaste, fake krab) as possibilities.
J. has been out of town and this was to be my last solo meal. My imagination conjured something like a carbonara sauce, but creamy like chawan mushi. Unfortunately, the culmination did not measure up to the possibilities.
Being on my own, I’d snacked on all the remaining ginkgo nuts; I’d read somewhere that edamame are sometimes substituted for ginkgo nuts. Result: they look quite alike but the texture is not so interestingly odd. And the oyster mushrooms were great! Well, you can sauté just about anything in butter and it’ll taste good. The fake krab, let’s say that is the last time I’ll use it. The kamaboko from Japan (or Korea, or other Asian countries) has flavor and texture, but the stuff from the supermarket tastes like wet tissue.
Where I went wrong was my impatience to eat. OK. OK. Tess can be lazy. I think Mr. Tsuji meant that udon (cooked? or dry?) would be put in the bottom of a dish and steamed as one would normally make chawan mushi (mushimono is steaming after all). But I was hungry and thought that if I kept the heat on the stove top very low… Well, it tasted good, but not the creamy saucy stuff I wanted. It was more like nice soft scrambled eggs.
This recipe has potential, but needs more experiments. Maybe taking a clue from avgolemono sauce (Greek egg lemon sauce)?

Wafu Spaghetti with Savory Custard
serves one
an experiment by Tess

  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup dashi (I eyeballed the egg and added dashi for a 3:1 ratio)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon mirin
  • 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup. Stir with a chopstick. Don’t whip it into a froth with bubbles.

  • kamaboko cut into 1-inch pieces (however much you want to eat—this is a recipe for 1)
  • small handful of edamame, blanched
  • oyster mushrooms, chopped and fried in generous butter
  • capellini for 1, cooked very al dente (thin spaghetti)
  • spinach or other greens for color

Drain the spaghetti but don’t rinse it. Pour the egg mixture into a warm cast iron skillet (or non-stick frying pan) and stir gently. Add the spaghetti. This is where the pan got too hot and I had to stir the pasta and egg together, thus the soft scrambled egg texture. I wonder if just using a double boiler would have been the way to do it?
Arrange the spinach on the edge of a shallow bowl. Arrange the pasta and egg-mushroom mixture and top with the kamaboko and edamame.

Pardon the worse than usual pictures in this post. I somehow misplaced my camera so I used J’s camera and couldn’t figure out the buttons…

3 favorite rooms in the house
tile floor, telephone nook, closet for guests’ coats, three ft. tall brass chimes, living room on the left, door to garage on the right
Dining Room
beautiful bowed window over looking patio and back yard, built in corner cabinet, library to the left, kitchen right
whole wall of shelves
(almost enough space for our books!)
whole wall of windows, bright and comfortable

closing date has changed to 19 November 2010
(note, the seller has removed all furniture—LOL we don’t really have real furniture…

4 thoughts on “Almost Wafu Chawan Mushi Spaghetti

  1. Yes, I’m getting excited.
    Title company says there is an “easement” and we don’t yet understand what it is. I surely hope it won’t mean something very negative about buying this house.
    Just take a deep breath and wait for explanation…

  2. Beautiful rooms, Tess. I love the telephone nook in the foyer, and what a lovely library. All of the rooms have character and good detail.
    Will keep my fingers crossed about the ‘easement’ and hope that things go perfectly this time ’round.

    • I’m hoping too!

      The house has lots of 1950’s touches like the telephone nook. In the kitchen: little round-cornered shelves on the ends of wall cupboards, (not so charming) tin bread-boxes in a couple of drawers, and the sweetest 5-inch deep closet especially for a broom and dustpan.

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