2000s Recipes + Menus

Steamed Egg Custard with Blue Crab and Flowering Chives

Serves8 (First Course)
  • Active time:20 min
  • Start to finish:40 min
October 2008
The spirit of Japan comes through in this dish: It is lovely to behold and has a delicate, light quality, yet the extraordinary flavors will seize your attention with the culinary equivalent of surround sound.

For dashi

  • 3 large dried Chinese black mushrooms
  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • 1 (4-inch) piece kombu (dried kelp)
  • 2 tablespoons bonito flakes

For custard

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry Oloroso Sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

For crab topping

  • 18 flowering Chinese chives, touogh bottoms discarded
  • 1/2 lb jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon dry Oloroso Sherry
  • pinch of white pepper
  • Equipment:

    8 (4- to 5-oz) bowls or ramekins

Make dashi:

  • Simmer mushrooms in water in a small saucepan 5 minutes, then let steep off heat 10 minutes. Add kombu and return just to a simmer. Turn off heat and add bonito flakes, then let steep 10 minutes. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or glass measure, discarding solids. Cool dashi to room temperature.

Make custard:

  • Beat eggs and 1 1/2 cups cooled dashi in a medium bowl, then whisk in remaining custard ingredients.
  • Divide among bowls. Cover each tightly with foil and arrange in a steamer rack. Steam, covered, over simmering water until just barely set in center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, covered, 2 to 3 minutes. (Custard will continue to set.)

Prepare crab topping while custard steams:

  • Blanche chives in a medium pot of boiling salted water 30 seconds, then transfer to an ice bath to stop cooling. Pat chives dry. Cut into 3/4-inch pieces and gently combine with crab and remaining ingredients.
  • Top warm custards with crab mixture.
Cooks’ note: Dashi can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.
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