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Rev. Saito was a great cook. We enjoyed his cooking. He loved to treat people by making sushi, steamed fish, and steak. During one Buddhist retreat he made the largest chawan-mushi (steamed egg-custard soup) I had seen in my life. Ignoring the traditional method, which involved a small soup cup, he used a huge pot into which he put dozens of eggs. When he cooked, I used to cut vegetables for him. Thanks to him, I am now not so much a Buddhist scholar as a kitchen helper. My wife Tomoko is very grateful to him because he domesticated me and taught me how to cut vegetables and cook.
- 80 g boned chicken thigh, cut into small bite-sized pieces
- dash of sake and light soy sauce
- 4 prawns, shelled
- dash of salt
- 1 sea eel (commercially grilled), cut lengthwise into halves and again cut across into 1 cm wide strips
- ¼ lily bulb, flaked and lightly boiled
- 8 ginkgo nuts, shelled with soft skin removed
- ⅓ bunch of Japanese honewort, discard the leaves and cut the stalk into 1.5 cm sections
- 400 cc dashi
- 15 cc mirin
- 15 cc light soy sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 eggs, well beaten until smooth
- ¼ yuzu, rind cut into several pieces
- Boil the Chicken pieces until white on the surface.
- Soak in cold water and drain.
- Sprinkle with sake and light soy sauce the evenly coat using fingers.
- Set aside for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Make a shallow cut on the dorsal side of prawns to devain. Sprinkle with salt and rub well. Rinse in water and drain. Cut into halves.
- Put dashi, mirin, light soy sauce and salt in a mixing bowl and blend thoroughly.
- Add already beaten eggs and mix thoroughly.
- Strain through a narrow meshed strainer for a smoother texture.
- Place Chicken, prawns, sea eel, lily bulb, ginkgo nuts and Japanese honewort into small heatproof bowls and pour in the egg mixture.
- Cover and cook in a preheated steamer over high heat for the first 3 minutes.
- After checking that the surface of the egg mixture has a whitish hue, reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
- Pierce a bamboo skewer through the center of the egg custard to check whether soup is clear.
- Remove from steamer and top with yuzu rind.