~ Chinese-Style Tomato-Eggs: For Any Time of Day ~
The incredible, edible egg. For centuries, the Chinese recognized how good the protein-packed egg is. So much so, eggs are their symbol of the principals-of-life: "yin" being the white, "yang" being the yolk.* Eggs, colored or marbled, celebrate birth, restoration of good health, continued good-luck and/or future prosperity. Dating back to ancient times, eggs of any kind (chicken, duck quail and pigeon) were incorporated into meals all day long (fluffy scrambled tomato eggs, flan-like steamed eggs, omelette-esque egg fu young, wispy egg drop soup, vinegary pickled eggs, tea-flavored smoked eggs, etc.), with mushrooms and/or seafood being common additions.
*Note: Yin and yang is a Chinese theory on the perspective of continuous change and balance throughout the life cycle. The theory is that all things in the universe, big or small, have an opposing force, and although they are opposing, they are extremely interconnected. Sigh.
Tomato-eggs -- humble, home-style, Chinese comfort-food.
Eggs stir-fried with tomatoes is a humble, home-style, Chinese comfort-food dish requiring minimal technique (similar to preparing American-style scrambled eggs, one wants to avoid rubbery, overcooked, or watery, undercooked scrambled eggs) plus few on-hand ingredients: eggs, tomatoes, rice wine, salt, pepper, sugar, scallion, and, a bit of controversial ketchup. Over time, just like the bottle of soy sauce became a staple in the pantries of almost all American kitchens, ketchup earned its spot in almost all Chinese and Chinese-American kitchens. Example:
Sweet & sour sauce. The first Chinese immigrants to the USA were mostly Cantonese, and, Canton, China is the home of the famous sweet-and-sour-pork dish eaten for Chinese New Year. With the Cantonese came their love for bright colors, bold flavors and fresh ingredients -- their sauce is a perfect balance of sugar, vinegar, chile pepper and ginger. We Americans added ketchup, and, chuckle, it was so good, the Chinese adopted it. If you've never tasted homemade sweet and sour sauce made with ketchup in place of food coloring, prepare to be wowed.
The tomato -- a relatively new ingredient to Chinese cuisine.
The tomato is a relative newcomer to Chinese cuisine, arriving via ports like Hong Kong in the latter 1800's -- less than 150 years ago. The Chinese embraced them, especially the Cantonese who are known for stir-fries full of crunch-tender fresh vegetables. Tomatoes were easy to grow, producing fruit almost year round and were/are a great source of much-needed vitamins A and C -- important to a big land-mass country with an even bigger, mostly-poor population. As a tomato-lover, it's no surprise they added fresh tomatoes to soups, salads, stir-fries (like tomato-beef), egg, rice and noodle dishes. Over the decades, China became one of the world's largest producers of American-style ketchup and tomato paste, with both beloved products being used to make some of their wonderfully tangy, mild, hot, sweet and sour sauces.
3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
4-6 tablespoons thinly-sliced scallions, white and light green part only
1/2 cup 1/2"-3/4" seeded tomato pieces (about 3-4 2"-round fresh, firm, Campari tomatoes, seeded)
For the ketchupy slurry:
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
~ Step 2. In a small bowl, using a fork, vigorously whisk the eggs, salt, pepper and rice wine together. Set aside. Slice the scallions and set aside, then, dice the tomatoes (as pictured), then, set tomatoes aside.
~ Step 3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10" nonstick skillet over medium-high - high heat. Add the scallions and stir-fry stirring constantly, until the scallions are softened but not browned, about 30-45 seconds.
~Step 4. Briefly rewhisk the eggs and pour them into the skillet. They are going to start to firm up around the edges almost upon contact. Continue stirring until the the eggs are lumpy, tender and just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer eggs to a plate and briefly set aside.
~Step 5. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir-fry until tomatoes are softening, about 45-60 seconds. Reduce heat to medim-low. Briefly rewhisk and pour the slurry to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thickened, then, amazingly, completely absorbed by the tomatoes, about 15-30 seconds.
~ Step 6. Return the eggs to the skillet and stir, just until the eggs and the tomatoes are combined and the eggs are reheated through, 30-ish seconds. Serve immediately, garnished with a tomato rose if you are so inclined.
Humble & home-style? Yep. Extraordinary & exquisite? You bet.
Special Equipment List: fork; cutting board; chef's knife; 10" nonstick skillet; spatula
Cook's Note: For another quick-to-make Asian egg dish, but one that requires a special technique and a special pan, leave it to the Japanese to turn a plain omelette into a work of neatly-rolled edible art that's as good tasting as it is pretty to look at. "Tomago" means "egg" in Japanese and "yaki" means "to grill or grilled". Tomagoyaki is essentially: the scrambled egg of Japan. They eat them for breakfast, pack them into bento boxes for lunch, and, serve them alongside other foods, like sushi. ~ Tamagoyaki: A Fried & Rolled Japanese Omelette ~.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)