Friday, 3 August 2012

Chinese Egg and Tomato Dish Anyone?

Chinese Egg and Tomato Dish
A friend of mine wanted to know more about an Egg and Tomato Chinese dish I mentioned I made the other night. It first started with an English Language student boarder from Taiwan we had a number of years ago who often made an Egg and Tomato dish when he cooked for himself. I asked him about it and it admitted he really didn’t know how to cook much else. He explained to me further how this was a very simple dish and how most guys like himself would know at least how to make this dish on their own. Kind of like how most young adults here would at least know how to make Macaroni and Cheese meal from the box, a North American student staple. He moved on and we eventually had a young guy from China stay with us.

This Chinese boarder, who was also studying English, I often spotted making the same Egg and Tomato dish. I asked him about it one day and he was happy to talk about it. He said many students go out to the streets and grab a bite to eat as the street foods are usually cheap and very tasty. If not, there are a few easy to prepare dishes many young adults just starting out will know how to make: a noodle with bean sauce (already made, just add noodles), the Egg and Tomato dish he was cooking, and I think he mentioned a couple more dishes I can’t recall. He was kind to show me how to make it and when he spotted me making the same dish, he gave me pointers so I could improve my skill in making this dish.

Chinese Egg and Tomato

Start cooking the rice first as it takes the longest time to cook. If you have access to a steam cooker of some sort, use that as your first choice to make Jasmine Scented Rice. If not, then I guess you do not have much of a choice than making the rice on the stove. Follow the instructions on the bag except for adding some butter. It always says that step on the instructions on the side of the bag. Have you ever had butter-flavoured rice at a Chinese restaurant? Well then, don’t add it here. The rice will turn out fine without the butter. You will also notice the instruction say not to open the lid. I can’t stress that part of their instructions enough, if you open the lid, you will let all the steam out and then it takes longer to cook but now you won’t know how much longer it will take because now the timing is all off. Except for not adding the butter, follow their instructions exactly. While you are cooking the rice, start cooking the main dish.

You will need two eggs to every medium sized ripe tomato you use and this usually equals one serving per person. Multiply the number of eggs and tomato ratio with the number of people you are cooking for. You will also need some green onions, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, minced garlic and ginger.

I highly recommend you do not use garlic or ginger powder; it is just not the same. Have a jar of minced garlic in your fridge. They are easy to acquire from the grocery store and can be stored in your fridge for a long time. If you don’t use ginger that often to justify doing the same thing as with the jar of minced garlic then when you are at the store picking up your items, break off a piece of fresh ginger and place it in a vegetable bag. The cashier might be confused with seeing an empty bag; just let them know there is ginger in it. They may end up rolling their eyes and place the ginger in your grocery bag without punching it in the register because it is such a tiny piece but at least you can walk out of the store with a clear conscience.

Wash and dice the tomatoes and try to keep as much of the juices that come from it as you will need it.

Slice up some green onions. They are there just for colour as in making the dish taste and look more interesting. You can always add more as you go along if you feel it could use ‘a bit more colour’.

Crack your eggs in a bowl and scramble.

In a medium sized and pre-heated pan, add a little bit of vegetable oil to prevent the eggs from sticking to the pan. Pour in your scrambled eggs and make scrambled eggs. You want to break large pieces into smaller pieces. You want to cook the eggs to the point where most of the liquid egg is cook but not completely. There may be a point where you are wondering if you should cook them just a bit longer and that’s the point when you should stop cooking them and remove the egg back into the bowl you had them to start with. What? You exclaim. Bear with me, it will soon make sense as we go along. Ok, so now the cooked eggs are back in the bowl you originally scrambled the yokes in; we are going to leave them there for now.

In the same heated pan, over low heat, you are going to add more vegetable oil because we do not want the tomatoes and eventually eggs to stick to the pan.

Next, add your minced garlic and minced ginger to the newly added vegetable oil in the heated pan. Stir for a few seconds.

Add the sliced green onions. Stir long enough to spread the onions around.

Next, add the diced tomatoes and all the juices that may have came from it. Now you see why the tomato had to be ripe as only ripe tomatoes are going to have juices. Gentle mash the tomatoes while they cook and simmer. Timing really depends on how high you have your pan so do not worry about timing too much. Cook the tomatoes until they look cooked and soft but still have most of its shape.

Go back to your eggs you have previously cooked. Stir the eggs getting the last liquid yoke left in the bowl. Break up large pieces if necessary. Add the eggs into the pan with the cooking tomatoes. Keep cooking until the eggs are heated again. 

While you are heating up the eggs in the tomatoes, add a pinch of salt and stir.

Add ¾ teaspoon to start of sugar, it is ok to eye-ball it. Stir and taste. Does it taste a bit sweat but not overly sweat? If so, sugar adding part is done. If not, add a smidge more, stir and taste again. Keep repeating until you start tasting some sweetness but it isn’t too sweet. This step may take some practice. Any liquid yoke that was added the second time around will be cooked by now so everything should be ok with the eggs.

Serve over rice.