Steamed mussel custards

Steamed mussel custards

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

We ate a wonderful version of this silky egg dish in Changsha, where it was a soothing foil for the heavy, smoky Hunanese flavours and dishes laced with chilli. That version was plain (the mussels are our addition), but you could also make this using cooked crabmeat or chopped prawns. A little care needs to be taken when making this. Whisk the eggs gently so you don’t generate too many bubbles and then strain the custard to get rid of any that do form, plus any lumpy bits of egg. And have your water at a constant simmer — don’t let it boil hard or the custard will overcook and be studded with unsightly holes.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg small black mussels
6 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 spring onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons peanut oil


  1. Scrub the mussels and pull out the hairy beards, then rinse well. Discard any broken mussels.
  2. Bring 250 ml water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the mussels, then cover and cook for about 4 minutes, or until they open — do not overcook. Remove the mussels to a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices as they drain. Reserve the cooking liquid in the pan. Measure the drained juices and the cooking liquid to make 375 ml, taking care not to take any gritty sediment when you pour it off to measure. Discard any remaining liquid.
  3. Combine the reserved cooking liquid, eggs, rice wine, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl and gently whisk to combine well. Strain through a sieve.
  4. Remove the mussels from the shells and cut in half. Divide the mussels among four 300 ml heatproof ceramic bowls, then place in a large steamer over a wok or saucepan of simmering water. Pour the custard mixture into the bowls, then cover the steamer and cook the custards over a medium–low heat for about 20 minutes, or until just set — the middle of the custards should still jiggle slightly when you shake them. Do not cook the custards too fast or they will be tough.
  5. Remove the custards from the steamer and sprinkle with the spring onion. Heat the peanut oil in a small saucepan until it starts to sizzle, then carefully pour the hot oil over the custards. Serve immediately.
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