The juicy, warm and hearty tomato and egg stir-fry is so well-loved and easy to prepare, it is the very first dish that many Chinese has ever learnt to cook.
Yet you hardly find it in any Chinese recipe books published outside China. Even inside China, despite being an ever-present home cooking favorite, wonderfully nutritious and lip-smackingly delicious, it is almost completely absent from restaurant menus, for the humble reason that a dish that is so common, so cheap, so easy to cook and so hopelessly unphotogenic is no hot candidate for the expression of hospitality. We definitely will not see a plate of tomato and egg next to the magnificent Peking duck under the sparkling chandelier any time soon.
But for me, tomato and scrambled egg is the perfect example of what home cooking is all about — tasty, nutritious, simple, affordable, totally satisfying and utterly unpretentious. Few hearty dishes with the quality of a stew can be done as easily and quickly as this one, and you can have a totally satisfying meal with a single dish of tomato and scrambled eggs. It has certainly come to my rescue very often at dinner time!
This dish is extremely easy to cook and very forgiving. Cooking time is very much a personal preference. Shorter cooking leaves more flavor and texture of the fresh tomatoes; longer, a more pulpy dish. I like to finish when the juice are getting thicker and consistent, and the tomatoes are quite soft but can still hold its shape. This renders a sweeter and mellower flavour , softer texture, but not too mushy. With the egg, you don’t want to cook it to death at the beginning, because it will be cooked again with the tomatoes. Just lightly scramble it and take it out when it’s still very soft. It will be a lot easier to break it up and mix with the tomatoes.
- 3 to 4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 spring onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 1 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 tsp of sugar
Heat 1½ tbsp oil on high heat. Scramble the egg lightly, and take it out of the wok when it is still very soft with runny bits. Add ½ tbsp oil and half of spring onion, toss for 10 seconds, add tomato, stir-fry for 30 seconds; add soy sauce, sugar and 2 tbsp of water, bring to boil, cover the wok, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat.
Add scrambled egg, roughly break it up and mix with the tomato. Simmer for another minute or until the juice is thick and the tomato is soft. Sprinkle the remaining spring onion, remove from heat and serve.
Every Chinese family seems to have their own version of this recipe with varying proportion of tomatoes and eggs and cooking time. So use my version as a starting point and experiment. Literally there is nothing that can go wrong with this dish!
The chemistry of simmering fresh tomatoes and scrambled eggs is amazing, the flavor so unique. It can go on everything and doesn’t have to be served with rice. Serve it as you would with a vegetable stew, and enjoy.