Cold Egg Custard

Tamago-dōfu

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

    .

Appears in

At Home with Japanese Cooking

At Home with Japanese Cooking

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1986

  • About

Cool and smooth, this custard makes a lovely side dish for a summer luncheon or dinner.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅔–¾ cup cold dashi (Basic Soup Stock)
  • 1 teaspoon mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Drop of usu kuchi shōyu (light soy sauce)

Sauce

  • cup dashi (Basic Soup Stock)
  • ½ teaspoon usu shōyu (light soy sauce)
  • ½ tablespoon mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

Garnish

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2–3 teaspoons finely minced scallion(s)

Method

Break the eggs into a measuring cup and beat them until well combined. Let the foam settle a bit before reading the measurement; you should have ⅔–¾ cup beaten eggs. Pour the eggs into a bowl and measure out an equal amount of basic soup stock. Stir the eggs and stock before adding 1 teaspoon syrupy rice wine, a pinch of salt and sugar and a drop of soy sauce. Stir again to mix all well. Strain the seasoned egg mixture through an uragoshi or a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl to ensure a smooth, foamless liquid.

Traditionally, the custard is steamed in a rectangular metal mold called a nagashibako (details). If you don’t have one, I suggest you use individual heat-proof bowls, since removal of the cooked custard from ordinary molds is very difficult. Pour the egg mixture through an uragoshi or strainer into your mold or individual bowls. If you are using a metal mold, place it on several wooden chopsticks laid flat across the rack of your steamer (metal mold directly against metal rack provides too great a conduction of heat and the bottom of the custard will scorch). If you are using glass or ceramic bowls this probably won’t be necessary.

Steam the custard over low heat for 10–12 minutes. Ideally your custard should have a smooth, glassy surface with no air bubbles, water spots or bumps to mar it. You can test for doneness with a toothpick; if no liquid fills the puncture point your custard is cooked.

Remove the mold or bowls from your steamer and let them cool for 5–10 minutes on a rack. If using a nagashi-bako, unmold the custard by lifting up the inner tray and loosening its edges with a damp knife. Slide the custard out onto a cutting board and slice it into 4 blocks. Using a spatula or knife, carefully transfer the blocks to individual deep plates or bowls (frosty glass dishes look particularly cool on a summer day).

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat through until the sugar has melted. Chill the custards and sauce separately for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. Just before serving, pour a few spoonfuls of sauce around the blocks of custard. Or, if the sauce is to accompany individual custards still in their cups, serve it in a separate pitcher. In either case, garnish each portion with a small mound of grated fresh ginger and a sprinkling of minced scallions.