Sit at the dinner table #3 Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry (西红柿炒鸡蛋)- One Homey Dish You Can Hardly Find in a Chinese Restaurant in the U.S.

In the photo, my son was 12 years old standing on a stool to reach the stove top

My previous post is about Grainger County Tomatoes. Naturally, I need to write this popular summer dish “Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry” we have in China.

This is such a homey dish that it is on many Chinese’s dinner tables in the summer, no matter you live in the south or north. And it is a very simple dish that both my kids learned their very first Chinese dish by cooking this if you don’t count scrambled egg as a dish.

And it is a delicious, very colorful, very appealing to your appetite, and a nutrient dish I would think most of the people will enjoy. At least, when I served this dish to my kids’ friends, most of them love it. After my son’s college friends had it, they immediately turned to my son and asked:”You can cook this, right?”

But somehow, the Chinese restaurants here don’t have it on their menu, I don’t understand.

It takes less than 15 minutes to make this tomato and egg stir-fry, here is how:

1. cut two medium size tomatoes into small chunks (Grainger County tomato is the best)
2. beat up 4 eggs with a teaspoon salt
3. scramble the egg quickly, make sure they are tender (don’t overcook)
4. with a tablespoon oil, put in one scallion that has been cut into small pieces in the hot oil, then put in the tomato chunks in, cover your pan
5. when the tomato chunks are losing its shape (soft and the juice is bubbling), add 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt and add in the scrambled egg, stir them together to get the tomato juice evenly cover the egg
6. Serve it with steamed rice.

Even though it is a simple, easy dish, not everybody does it right. The important trick to remember is to cook the tomato until it starts to lose shape, that’s when the sweet and sour juice brings out the taste of tomato. The most awful story came from a girlfriend of mine. She was on a trip so her two kids were in the hands of her husband for a short while. Her kids requested this dish and her husband did it. The kids tasted the tomato, egg stir-fry and turned to their dad very suspicious: “Dad, why is the tomato still cold inside?” It turned out that the dad cut the tomato into 4 big chunks, threw them into the cooking pan and undercooked them, way under.

Tomato is not a native vegetable growing in China. The other day, I was amused by an article regarding foods in ancient China. The article pretends that you have time-traveled back a few thousand years in China and you are hungry. You rush into a restaurant and quickly order some regular foods you eat nowadays. Unfortunately, one by one, the waiter tells you no, no, no! At that time, the foods you have just ordered were not seen in China YET. In the article, it listed when lots of familiar foods were introduced to China. Tomato was mentioned first in a book published in 1621. So it was around 400-500 years ago, the Chinese started to have this beautiful vegetable, or as my daughter insists, a fruit, on their dinner table.

This makes me think that actually foods are the avant-garde step of globalization probably before people at that time even understood what globe was. And I believe everybody has no objection of this kind of globalization. Who doesn’t want to enjoy a tasty new food?


3 thoughts on “Sit at the dinner table #3 Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry (西红柿炒鸡蛋)- One Homey Dish You Can Hardly Find in a Chinese Restaurant in the U.S.

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