This recipe for a steamed mushroom custard comes originally from Jane Lawson’s book – Yoshoku Contemporary Japanese. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients and lengthy method, it is essentially quite simple and the light delicate texture makes it a truly elegany dinner party first course.
This is one of those occasions when you are unlikely to get all the ingredients locally unless you live near an Asian deli but take a look on-line, there are some excellent Japanese food distributors about although I should warn you to make sure you know what you have ordered as the labels don’t always come with an English translation. Multiple bottles of clear liquid could be sake or mirin or rice wine vinegar. My favourite site for Japanese ingredients is Japan Centre as I have always had good service from them but there are others.
20g / 3/4 oz Butter
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 leek – very thinly sliced
150g / 5oz Shitake Mushrooms – caps only, thinly sliced
100g / 3 1/2 oz Enoki Mushrooms – trimmed and halve lengthways
1/2 teaspoon dashi granules (if you can’t get dashi try bouillon powder)
4 Eggs plus 3 Egg Yolks
185 ml / 6 fluid oz double cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Mirin (a sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons Japanese Soy Sauce (or other soy sauce although the flavour is different)
Ground White Pepper
Japanese Mayonnaise to garnish (again you can substitute ordinary mayonnaise but the flavour is different)
Chives to garnish
1 tablespoon Mirin
1 1/2 tablespoons Caster Sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Japanese Soy Sauce
Pre-heat the oven to 140 C / 275 F / Gas Mark 1
Put the butter and sesame oil into a frying pan over amedium heat. Add the leeks and cook until soft but not coloured. Add the shitake mushrooms and a pinch of saly and cook until softened (approximately 8 minutes). Add the enoki and cook for a further minute. Sprinkle in the dashi granules and mix until dissolved. Leave to cool.
Put the eggs, egg yolks, cream, mirin and soy sauce into a bowl and whisk until combined. Season with salt and white pepper and strain into a jug.
Place a roasting tin, half filled with water on the bottom shelf of the oven.
Divide the mushrooms and leeks between 24 small ramekins (or use a non-stick muffin tin). Carefully pour over the custard mixture. Tap each bowl (or the tray) gently on the surface to ensure any bubbles rise to the top. To be really thorough you should leave the custard mix to settle for ten minutes and then use a cocktail stick to burst any bubles that have appeared on the surface.
Carefully place the ramekins in the roasting tin or, if you are using a muffin tray, place on an oven shelf immediately above the roasting tin and cook for 13-15 minutes until just set. They should still have a slight wobble. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before turning them out of the tin (they can be served in the ramekins if you prefer.
In the meantime make the soy caramel. Put the mirin, the sugar and one tablespoon water into a small saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved then increase the heat and cook until syrupy. Add the soy sauce and heat until syrupy again. Cool to room temperature.
Serve the custards at room temperature served with a little mayonnaise, the chives and a drizzle of soy caramel.