Do you have a childhood favorite dish? Something that brought you comfort and you would eat no matter what? For me, that was tomato and eggs (fan qie chao dan/番茄炒蛋). Stir fried tomatoes and eggs are a super home style comforting meal (jia chang cai) found both at home and also at casual home-style restaurants. It’s a super simple combination of flavors, but there’s something about the sweet sauciness of the tomatoes and the savoriness of the eggs that is a perfect pair.
Because it’s so simple – literally just stir-fried eggs with tomatoes – it’s one of those dishes that is on repeat. It comes together in less than 15 minutes, even if you’re not experienced in the kitchen and the pay off is unbeatable. Part of the appeal is definitely convenience and part of it is wistful cultural nostalgia. Along with rice and instant noodles, stir-fried tomatoes and eggs is probably one of the most quoted Chinese comfort foods. If you’ve had stir-fried eggs and tomatoes before before, as the kids say, if you know, you know. If you haven’t, welcome to the world of rich and creamy scrambled eggs, tangy with sweet and saucy tomatoes. It’s so satisfying.
What is stir fried tomato and eggs/fan qui chao dan/番茄炒蛋?
Stir fried tomatoes and eggs is a common home-style Chinese food dish that’s enjoyed both at home and at restaurants. It’s especially popular in school canteens in China. Essentially eggs are scrambled into large curds and stir fried with sliced tomatoes. The tomatoes cook out into a jammy sweet and savory sauce which combines with the eggs for the ultimate comfort food dish.
What do you eat tomatoes and eggs with?
Most of the time tomatoes and eggs are eating on top a huge pile of steaming hot, fluffy white rice. The sauce stirs into the grains of rice and everything is combined into a super saucy rice bowl.
But, tomatoes and eggs as a combination are so popular that there are a ton of other ways people eat tomatoes and eggs too. I’ve had them in dumplings, in soup, with noodles, with bread. The list can go on and on. To lots of Chinese people, tomato and eggs are the perfect combination, much like how a huge chunk of America considers peanut butter and jelly the ultimate food combination.
What goes in stir fried tomatoes and eggs?
Just like peanut butter and jelly, there are a million different ways to make tomatoes and eggs. Because it’s a homestyle dish, everyone makes it differently. At it’s core, it’s tomatoes and eggs but people also add in garlic, ginger, shaoxing wine, vinegar, toasted sesame oil, ketchup, tomato paste, green onions, sugar, onions, white pepper…really there’s no right or wrong way to make tomatoes and eggs.
Personally, I keep it pretty simple with eggs, tomatoes, a bit of sugar, ketchup (this is what really makes my tomato and eggs good!), and a bit of a cornstarch slurry to make everything extra glossy and saucy. Not everyone likes their tomato eggs saucy but I really like the extra silky luxuriousness that comes from a cornstarch thickened sauce.
How to make stir fried tomatoes and eggs
1. Lightly beat your eggs. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, lightly beat your eggs with a pinch of salt, then set aside. The salt helps break down the structure of your eggs which will make them fluffy and tender because the salt helps breakdown proteins. The eggs become more liquid-y and viscous. Plus your eggs will be seasoned and we want everything to be nice and seasoned.
2. Prep your tomatoes and garlic. I like to keep my garlic in slices but of course you can mince if you want to. This is a personal preference, so do as you do. As for the tomatoes, if I’m going all out, I will remove the skins (see below) but most of the time, I just cut them into six wedges. I like using romas or tomatoes on the vine. Basically any super red and juicy tomato will do.
3. Get all your other ingredients ready. Make sure you have your measuring spoons out – if you don’t mind washing extra dishes and want to feel like you’re on a cooking show, you can even pre-measure everything out into little dishes – as well as your oil and sugar. Make a cornstarch slurry by whisking up your cornstarch with a bit of cold water.
4. Gently cook the eggs. It’s time to cook the eggs. Give the eggs another whisk then heat up a touch of oil in a non-stick pan. Cook the eggs over medium high heat being careful not to move them around too much. You want nice big curds. Use a silicone spatula to move the eggs from the edge of the pan into the middle, pushing them when you see that they have started to set. When the eggs are done but still soft, scoop them out into a bowl and set aside.
What can I serve tomatoes and eggs with?
Tips and Tricks for the best Tomatoes and Eggs Stir Fry
– Peel the tomatoes. This is an extra step that most people don’t do but if you want a super soft and smooth tomato egg dish, you’ll peel your tomatoes because tomato skins are tough and fiberous. Make a tiny x in the bottom of the tomato, blanch and quickly toss into an ice bath and the skins just come right off.
– Make sure you don’t overcook your eggs. Rubbery eggs don’t taste good. This is your chance to show off your soft scramble technique. Also, be sure to try to keep the curds nice and large, you don’t want your dish to be huge pieces of tomatoes and broken up egg bits.
– On the other side of the equation, don’t undercook your tomatoes. You want the juices to come out and the sugars to caramelize into a delicious jammy sauce. Hard, under cooked tomatoes in this dish is a travesty. If you can, be sure you’re using summertime sweet tomatoes. If it’s the middle of winter, just be sure to cook your tomatoes down enough.
I hope you try this dish! It really is one of my favorites and I hope it’ll be one of your backpocket favorites too. It’s not impressive and it’s not the prettiest to look at, but it’s homey and comforting and good.
tomatoes and eggs,
Classic Chinese Tomato Egg Stir Fry 番茄炒蛋
- 3 eggs lightly beaten
- salt to taste
- neutral oil
- 3 roma tomatoes sliced
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp ketchup or tomato paste optional
- 1 tsp cornstarch
Lightly whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt. In a non-stick frying pan, heat up a bit of oil over medium high heat. Add the eggs, using a rubber spatula to stir occasionally so the eggs cook slowly and evenly, pushing every so often so you end up with large curds, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat into a bowl and set aside.
Add a bit more oil to the pan and add the tomatoes and garlic and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes start to cook and caramelize, pushing down on the tomatoes to release their juices. Stir in the sugar and ketchup.
When the tomatoes are juicy and bubbling, turn the heat down and let the tomatoes reduce a bit.
While the sauce is reducing, whisk the cornstarch into 1/4 cup water then add to the pan. Stir in and the sauce come to a bubbling simmer to thicken slightly.
Add the eggs back into the pan briefly and then enjoy on fluffy white rice.
For a bit of extra oomp, whisk in 1/2 tsp shaoxing wine with the eggs and finish with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.