2000s Recipes + Menus

Steamed Corn Custards with Crab

  • Active time:20 min
  • Start to finish:40 min
July 2002
The classic Japanese egg custard—chawan mushi—is reinvented with creamy corn and crab. Keep an eye on the time while steaming; the custard is delicate and can easily overcook.

For custard

  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears) or thawed frozen
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt

For crab topping

  • 1 (3/4-lb) king crab leg, thawed if frozen and shell discarded
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • Special equipment:

    4 (2-oz) ceramic or glass ramekin

Make custard:

  • Cook corn in a 1-quart saucepan of boiling salted water until very tender, 3 to 5 minutes, and drain in a sieve.
  • Purée milk and hot corn in a blender until almost smooth, then force through a very fine sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Whisk in egg and salt and divide custard among ramekins.
  • Steam custards in a steamer set 1 inch above simmering water, covered with lid, until centers are set and a thin knife inserted into center of 1 custard comes out clean, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove ramekins from steamer with tongs and cool custards slightly.

Make crab topping while custards cool:

  • Coarsely chop 1/4 cup crabmeat and reserve remainder for another use. Heat butter in a small heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook crab, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in chives.
  • Serve custards topped with crab.
Cooks’ note: Custard mixture can be prepared and poured into ramekins 1 day ahead and chilled, surfaces covered with plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature before steaming.
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