So, after a week in New Orleans, a barbeque cocktail party, and a delicious Persian dinner (khoreshte aloo esfenaj–my faaavorite), I found myself in need of some recuperative sustenance. I often turn to rice in such dire times, and what better accompaniment than a super simple scrambled egg and tomato stirfry? A fond memory of my long-ago studies in Beijing, 番茄炒蛋 is an ur-food in China. You’d never see it on any menu, but I’d wager that every even vaguely Chinese person on the planet holds it close to their hearts. It’s such a cultural touchstone that it was used to describe the (somewhat unfortunate) red and yellow uniforms the Chinese Olympic team wore…
I learned this by watching the cooks in the cafeteria every morning. It’s pretty basic, and while you could add ginger or garlic (or “magic taste powder”, ahem), I like this fairly unadorned–particularly perfect after a week of partying. It’s a comfort food for, like, 1.3 billion people; how bad can it be?
Chinese Scrambled Eggs with Tomato
Yield: 2 servings
3 medium tomatoes*
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (black will do, too)
3 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1 tsp sugar
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch the tomatoes: cut a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato and lower them into the boiling water for a minute or so. Turn off heat and remove the tomatoes. When cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes, cube them roughly–removing some of the seeds as you go. Set aside.
Break the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk together with 1 tsp water, salt, and white pepper.
In a wok or medium fry pan, bring 2 tsp of the oil to a shimmer (med-high heat). Add the eggs and stirfry energetically till soft set but not quite done–still wetly shiny and slightly gloopy. Scrape onto a plate.
Wipe out pan with a paper towel, add remaining oil, and turn heat to high. Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute. Add a pinch more salt, and the sugar. Moosh the tomatoes around and cook another 4-6 minutes till slightly thickened–adding a bit of water if it looks too dry. Return the eggs to the pan, stir to combine and warm through, and remove to warmed serving dish. Top with optional chives or scallion tops.
Serve immediately with rice.
Notes & Variations
On tomato selection: any tomato will do fine here, but I think it’s best with half-ripe ones–orangey red and still streaked with a little green. Since you’re adding sugar anyway, the extra acid is quite nice. A mixture of red and green could be good too, but use what you’ve got and what you like.