Chicken chawan-mushi with cucumber salad
( SERVES 4 )
In Japan, this method of cooking chicken is known as "white chicken". Because the meat cools quickly in the ice, it remains dense and juicy. The cucumber adds a touch of crisp delicacy.
- Sprinkle the chicken with sake and salt, then marinate for 3-4 minutes.
- Bring the water to the boil, place the chicken in it, then return to the boil.
- Turn the heat off and let the breasts sit in the water for 10 minutes.
- Remove the breasts from the saucepan and plunge them into a good quantity of ice, in cold water.
- Leave for 10 minutes to completely cool, then refrigerate until needed. Cut the chicken into small cubes.
- Break the eggs into a bowl and add 1½ cups of dashi stock, salt, soy sauce, sugar and sake.
- Gently whisk with a stirring motion, but don't let the mixture froth. Should any form, carefully mop it up with a paper towel and discard.
- Remove the hard stems from the shiitake mushrooms and slice them thinly.
- Divide the mushrooms and cubes of chicken between each of 4 small bowls or china cups.
- Carefully pour over the chawan-mushi mixture.
- Boil the water in a steamer and steam the -ramekins until the mixture has just set and is still quivering - about 6-8 minutes.
- While the custards cook, slice the cucumber into thin matchsticks and toss gently with the chilli and sesame oil.
- When the custards are cooked, garnish with the cucumber salad. Serve immediately.
- Heat the water and mushrooms in a small saucepan. Just before the water boils, add the bonito flakes, then turn off the heat.
- Leave the stock until the flakes sink to the bottom of the pan, then strain. Makes 500ml.