The Right Recipe?

June 26, 2016

Looking through the pages of The World Wide Cookbook,

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which was published in 1944 by Gourmet’s first editor, I found a recipe so insane that I went leaping through a few of my other cookbooks, looking for different versions of the same recipe.

Chawan Mushi, the light, savory Japanese custard, is one of my favorite dishes.  It makes a perfect simple supper on a summer night. At least the recipe I use does. This one of Madame Metzelthin’s?  Although she was married to a diplomat, and apparently ran households in eleven different countries, this is not a recipe I’d care to attempt.

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Then I thought I’d see what another prominent Pearl had to say on the subject. Pearl S. Buck, author, Nobel prize winner and long-time resident of China, published her Oriental Cookbook in 1972.

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This one’s more like it!

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Then I thought I’d see what Merle Armitage had to say on the subject in 1939.  Quite a lot, it turns out:

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But if you’re going to make chawan mushi, I’d recommend using the recipe from this book: Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art.


I’m sorry – my copy of the book is in the city, and I’m upstate. But it is, to my mind, the go-to book on Japanese cooking. The recipe is on page 215, and if you click the link above you can look inside the book and find the recipe.  It uses, among other things, ginko nuts, which add a wonderful textural note to the custard.

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1 Comment

  • Brenda Oswalt says:

    You got backyard bears? Wow… we live on 12 acres at the end of a dead end Texas country road, and we “got no bears”.

    Course we are in the hill country…