While China is one country, its cuisine wildly diverges depending on the region in which you’re eating. As you travel through the country there are of course changes in climate, geography, history and lifestyle. Thus, there are 8 distinctive regional cuisines: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan and Zhejiang. In the U.S. you see Szechuan restaurants, Hunan restaurants, Cantonese restaurants. They’re proud of their heritage. Regionality. Individualism. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great. But what unifies the country? If I had to choose a dish, as American as apple pie, I’d choose the tomato and egg stir fry. It’s remarkably the same all over China.
It’s hard to resist this quick dish. The sweetness of the tomatoes, the softness of the egg. It can be a meal in itself. It’s reassuring. And it’s quite simple and quick to prepare. Fry up some egg, cook some tomatoes, mix it all together, add in a bit of sugar and seasoning and serve it up with a bowl of fluffy white rice. You actually don’t need a recipe. Make it once, and you can make it from memory.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the butter and pour in the beaten eggs.
- Scramble the eggs, but scramble into medium/medium-large pieces.
- Scoop out the eggs and set aside.
- In the same skillet on medium heat, heat the oil.
- Add in tomatoes and cook until soft and skin starts separating from flesh, about 4 minutes.
- Add in sugar and soy sauce.
- Return the eggs into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir so the eggs mix well with the tomatoes.
- Add in scallions and serve with steamed white rice.
When preparing the tomatoes, I like to remove some of the seeds so that the dish doesn’t become too liquidy. I remove about half the seeds from each tomato.
Regarding the size of the chopped tomatoes, I’ve seen the tomatoes prepared in slices (quartered and medium-thinly sliced). I’ve also seen it chopped into pieces. I prefer the latter since the size and shape are roughly similar to that of the scrambled egg. I quarter the tomato and then chop each quarter into another 3-4 pieces.
The tomatoes will cook faster if you place a lid on the skillet because the lid forces the heat and steam to circulate.
My preferred way of eating this dish is using a bowl – so that I can pour a bit of the liquid from the stir fry into the rice and mix it all together.