This Chinese style steamed egg (dun daahn in Cantonese) is one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s silky soft and much wobblier than daahn tāat, and surprisingly rich even though it’s mostly water and eggs.
You can garnish or serve it with almost anything, although rice on the side is a non-negotiable for me. This version has sauteed dūng gū (aka shiitake mushrooms), chopped scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil.
You can also buy it at the store (it'll be in the refrigerated section near the tofu, and it's labelled as "egg tofu"). My favorite way to eat egg tofu is with mushroom gravy!
How do you make steam egg custard?
The only ingredients you really need for this recipe are some sort of liquid (water, stock or broth), eggs and salt. Whisk them all together, steam until no longer runny and then you can eat!
For the liquid, chicken or fish or vegetable stock is the easiest. I usually don’t have any on hand, so I gravitate towards water with a dash of fish sauce or I use the water from rehydrating dried mushrooms.
Re: toppings, most of the time, these get added to the bottom of the bowl before the eggs get poured on top, and they steam with the eggs. You can do that with the mushrooms here, but I’d recommend cooking them before assembling the custard (same goes if you add ground pork, chicken or other vegetables; if you use shrimp, don’t cook beforehand since they cook so quickly).
The ratio of liquid to eggs in this recipe is 1 cup liquid to 2 eggs. I like this ratio because it’s easy to scale up if I’m making dinner for my family or friends, but also because it’s a good balance between richness and volume.
As a general rule of thumb, the more liquid you add, the more you can stretch your eggs (key when I was in college and ended up spending my money on milk tea instead of real food).
I would also err higher on the liquid to egg ratio if you are less experienced or confident in cooking (whether it be through steaming or baking something like this matcha custard pie) eggs or custard. This is because the liquid allows for more forgiveness when you are steaming the egg custard, and it’s harder to overcook it.
How do you steam Chinese eggs?
I use a pot bigger than the bowl I’m using to hold the eggs, and add an inch of water. A little rack gets centered in the pot to elevate the bowl so that it doesn’t have direct contact with the pot or the water and the custard can cook gently and evenly.
Ideally, I would recommend using a shallow, wide bowl (or cake pan) rather than a taller, skinnier one, as the eggs will cook much more evenly in this kind of a container. Having a vessel with a little lip along the edge will also come in handy later.
Depending on how big your pot is (especially since you want to have room to easily take out the bowl after the eggs are done steaming), this can be hard. If you’re concerned about dripping condensation onto your eggs when you’re checking for doneness, you can wrap the lid of the pot with a towel, which will soak up any moisture and protect your food.
The most anxiety inducing part of making Chinese steamed egg is taking the bowl or pan out of the pot. The combination of your bowl/pan’s lip along its edge and calling in an Asian kitchen plate retriever for reinforcement will help ensure this process goes as smoothly and safely as possible.
You can use a pressure cooker or a microwave instead of steaming on the stove. Keep in mind that both of these methods will be faster than stovetop steaming, so it’s important to check on the custard more frequently.
How long does it take to steam egg?
This will depend on how much you’re making, the dimensions of the container you’re steaming the eggs in, your heat, etc etc. It typically takes me about 20-25 minutes if I’m doing 1 cup liquid and 2 eggs, depending on how antsy I am that day.
If you’re new to making Chinese steamed eggs, I’d recommend setting a timer for 15 minutes and checking then. It likely will not be done, but you can check every 5 minutes after (or more frequently as you get closer to the finish line).
By the time it’s done, it should be jiggly (not sloshy) when you move the bowl a little bit. You can also insert a knife in the deepest section of the custard, and it should come out clean.
What’s the difference between Chinese steamed eggs and other Asian steamed eggs?
Asian steamed eggs come in at least three different variations, including Japanese chawanmushi Chinese steamed eggs (dun daahn) and Korean gyeran-jjim.
Though it looks like dun daahn would be pronounced as in you're done, dan in a horribly stereotypical Western accent, it's more like dun dahn, with a long "ahh" sound. I could try to say chawanmushi and gyeranjjim, but it's a crapshoot and much easier to say steamed egg when I'm in a situation where dun daahn doesn't suffice.
They're very similar at the base level: egg mixed with water/broth, seasoned with whatever and maybe with meat or veggies added in as well. HOWEVER. Chawanmushi and dun daahn usually have a higher water to egg ratio than gyeran-jjim, so gyeran- jjim is less custardy than the others.
This Chinese steamed egg might look a little unassuming, but the fluffy texture and the pile of sauteed mushrooms on top make this a cozy, hearty meal.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup chicken or fish stock or water with a splash of fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sake or mirin
- 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 shiitake mushrooms sliced into strips
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 green onion chopped
- cooked rice for serving
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until completely homogeneous. Stir in the stock, sake/mirin and 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce. Place the mushrooms in a shallow, heat-proof bowl, then pour the eggs on top.
Place a small metal rack in a saucepan, then add water until the legs of the rack are half submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Place the bowl of eggs on top of the rack.
Cover and steam for 15-30 minutes, or until the egg is firm but still soft and silky. A knife inserted into the center of the shiitake dun dan should come out cleanly, and the center should jiggle slightly but not slosh around (think creme brulee or Jello or panna cotta). When in doubt, decrease the temperature and/or check the dun dan frequently.
Remove the dun dan from the pot carefully, then cool slightly.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon soy sauce and the sesame oil on top. Garnish with scallions and serve hot with plenty of rice.
Adapted slightly from CONNIEL1M via AllRecipes.
You can mix it up and not do shiitake. Sauteed shrimp, browned ground beef, cooked chicken, sauteed onions, wilted greens, etc etc would be tasty here!
In these pictures I used the shiitake mushrooms as a garnish, instead of cooking them into the egg. Either way works, but I'd recommend sauteeing them if you're planning to use the mushrooms as a topping.