番茄炒蛋 (fān qíe chǎo dàn) is stir-fried tomatoes and eggs, or—as they’re often shortened to—tomato eggs. It’s a dish that’s peasantry in origin and exceedingly simple in execution, but transcends its two constituent ingredients by a li (a Chinese mile). And for Chinese millennials around the world, tomato eggs represent a dish of deep nostalgia and peak Chinese comfort cooking. My own version, below, involves a couple extra steps that take the classic even further, in many ways making them even more like themselves: Half of the tomatoes are cooked down and concentrated into a thick puree, while the rest are de-skinned. The eggs, rather than being 100 percent fried, are soft-scrambled with butter until creamy and dreamy. —Jun
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- Serves 2 to 4
neutral-flavored oil, such as vegetable or canola
Shaoxing or rice wine
scallion, thinly sliced, for garnish
White rice, for serving
- De-skin the tomatoes: Ready a pot of boiling water and an ice bath. With a paring knife, lightly score the bottom of each tomato with a cross. Drop the tomatoes in the boiling water and cook 10 to 15 seconds. Remove them from the water and immediately plunge into the ice bath. Peel the skins off of the tomatoes; they should come off really easily. Then, slice each tomato into 8 wedges.
- Cook the tomatoes: In a pot or a small pan, heat the tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add about half of the tomatoes, season with a pinch of salt, and cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the tomatoes are really soft and have turned into a thick puree. Add the rest of the tomatoes, cook 3 minutes longer, then set aside. (This second round of tomatoes should still retain their shape.)
- Scramble the eggs: Crack your eggs into a cold saucepan and add the knob of butter. Place over medium-low heat. As the eggs cook, stir continuously with a spatula, scraping the bottom bits off the pan to prevent large chunks from forming. We want velvety smooth scrambled eggs here. It takes a while to come together, but you should get just barely set scrambled eggs within 4 to 5 minutes of stirring and cooking. If you find that your eggs are scrambling too quickly, take your pan off the heat for a few seconds, stirring vigorously, before putting it back on the heat to continue cooking. When the eggs are sufficiently scrambled (they should be viscous but still very slightly runny), add the Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, and the rest of the salt, and give it all a quick stir.
- Add the tomatoes to the scrambled eggs, and give one or two final stirs. (We don’t want the tomatoes to stain and blend into the eggs too much; you could even reserve some of the tomatoes to place on top of the eggs.)
- Garnish with scallions and serve. (Tomatoes and eggs are best had with white rice, or maybe on top of toasts for Chinese-inspired tartines.)