May 04, 2012

Tomato and egg stir-fry

Tomato egg 2
Home-cooking is about being authentic. Not the kind that dictates what sauce goes with what dish or what cheese goes with what wine; it's about creating a taste that's true to yourself and a scene where formality meets freedom in the comfort of food, be it soy sauce spaghetti or chow mein.

Tomato and egg stir-fry is my ultimate comfort food. Velvety scrambled eggs drenched in the plump and luscious red of tomatoes. What a fiesta! It's ridiculously simple and rustic; from my parents farm in rural China to the fast-paced restless Hong Kong, this duo provides the same comfort one gets from their grandmother cooking for them in childhood.

This effortless tomato and egg stir-fry also appears on Mark Bittman's list of"101 simple meals ready in 10 minutes or less." Although my recipe differs from his (quoted below), it truly takes less than 10 minutes:
"Chinese tomato and eggs: Cook minced garlic in peanut oil until blond; add chopped tomatoes then, a minute later, beaten eggs, along with salt and pepper. Scramble with a little soy sauce."
If I were to dress it up with more formality, I would skin the tomatoes, julienne some gingers and woodears or jazz it up with some pickled flavors—back home in my family's Hakka kitchen, a dish of tomato and egg would not be complete without pickled mustard greens. Or if I'm feeling lazy, I'll add more water, turn the dish into a broth, add in spam (yes, spam!) and serve with rice vermicelli. That makes me happy.

Tomato egg mise en place  

Tomato and egg Stir-fry
I have two tricks for making this dish shine: to achieve fluffy eggs, beat egg whites and egg yolks separately; for reducing tomato mess on your chopping board, cut tomatoes using roll cutting technique, so that seeds stay intact instead of flowing out and the tomato pieces stay uniform in size.

Time: 15 minutes 
Yield: 2 servings 
3 roma tomatoes, about ½ pound, cut to 1" cubes or chunks
2 stalks of green onions, chopped, about 2 tablespoons

2 eggs
1 teaspoon oil
a pinch of salt 
2 tablespoons oil (for cooking)
2 tablespoons water, or broth

Slurry (optional):
½ teaspoon cornstarch 
1 teaspoon water  
  1. Cut tomatoes into 1" chunks and chop up green onions.
  2. Beat egg whites first, then add 1 teaspoon oil and a pinch of salt. Beat in egg yolks. Set aside.
    Tomato egg step 1
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, pour in eggs. Keep scrambling the eggs, pushing cooked parts towards one end of the pan, leaving uncooked parts flowing along the edges. When it's about 80% done, remove from pan and set it on the serving plate.

    Tomato egg step 2
  4. Add 1 tablespoon green onions to the remaining oil (if there's not enough oil, feel free to add a little bit). Add tomato chunks and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in some water, or better yet, flavored broth like chicken broth or veggie broth, about 2 tablespoons. Keep stir-frying. Add a pinch of salt and the remaining green onions.
  6. Cover to steam until tomatoes are tender and the mixture turns thick, about 30 seconds. POUR the slurry into the stir-fry and quickly stir to thicken. (If the slurry is not thick enough, feel free to add some more; otherwise, add more water if it's too thick.) Cover again.

    Tomato egg step 3
  7. Remove from heat and pour the tomatoes onto the eggs. Stir the mixture (so as to heat the eggs to complete doneness.) Serve with rice!


Alex Man said...

Like the composition of the first photo!

minneville said...

somehow I regretted putting the chopsticks :) Glad you liked it!!

Trout Caviar said...

This is lovely. Tomato and egg was one of my favorite dishes when I lived/traveled in China--too long ago. Comfort food, indeed. I like your technique of beating the whites separately, and only combining tomato and egg at the end on the plate. What an appetizing looking dish!


minneville said...

Thank you Brett! This is definitely my favorite dish. I learn these techniques from some Hong Kong cookbooks and like it too! It's a great way to leave the texture of the eggs velvety!

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