October 21, 2011

Tomato Egg Stir Fry 蕃茄炒蛋

chinese, comfort food, egg, organic, recipe, stir fry, tomato, vegetable, scrambled eggs

You know how there are some foods that, when you smell, see or taste them, take you straight back to when you were just a wee girlie or laddie and were just tall enough to sit in the 'real' chairs and eat with the big people?  Ah, life was good then!  I didn't have to do a thing back then, just sit in my wee chair and eat to my heart's content all the yummy food that Grandma cooked each day.  Oh dear, I'm getting a tear in my eye...  How I miss Grandma and her wonderful cooking!  

She's the real reason that I have all these strong food memories for real Chinese home-cooking.  Grandma cooked proper delicious Chinese meals everyday of the year.  One favorite dish of mine that she made a lot was Tomato Egg Stir Fry 蕃茄炒蛋, a homey dish that, when well done, is a perfect combination of tastes and textures as well as being simple and quick to make.

Nowadays, whenever I gobble down the first couple of bites of this delicious Chinese comfort dish, I swear I can almost hear my dearest Grandma pottering about the pots and pans in the kitchen.

I suppose the secret to this dish is really in how you cook the eggs.  You want just barely cooked or scrambled, tender folds of eggs that, when mixed with the sweet sour tomato sauce, will just slip tastily and smoothly down your throat.  If you don't do it right, then this dish is only a so-so stir fry.  But if you do the eggs properly, then you will achieve the texture contrast that is so important in bringing this dish together.  

It took me a while to figure out the best way to get the eggs right which is difficult mostly because eggs cook so fast.  It reminded me of when I was practicing making omelets.  There seems to be a 'zen zone' that you must reach for when you're seriously cooking eggs of any nationality.  Or as Yoda would say: "No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."

Tomato Egg Stir Fry, chinese, comfort food, egg, organic, recipe, stir fry, tomato, vegetable, scrambled eggs

For the tastiest egg taste use organic or free range eggs at least.  For the tomatoes look for the ripest and of course tastiest tomatoes that you can find.  I usually look for the tomatoes that are about to be tossed, splitting even, these are soft and perfect.  When you cook the tomato part of the dish you will want the tomatoes to cook down soft and mushy to create the saucy bit of the dish.  

And don't forget the ketchup!  You might think it strange to use a western condiment in a very Chinese dish, but there is a long tradition of the Chinese successfully incorporating many different foreign food stuffs into their own cuisine.  Besides that, did you know that ketchup is originally from China?!

One last warning about Tomato Egg Stir Fry.  It will be gone.  Don't expect that there will be leftovers of this delectable dish.  Of all the times we have had this dish for a meal (and we have it quite often), there has never been leftovers, ever.  It's not the cook in this case, it's just the dish really.  So come on, try it out!  And may the Force be with you...
Tomato Egg Stir Fry Recipe 蕃茄炒蛋
(Prep time: 3 mins  Cook time: 7 mins)


    For Tomato

    For Egg
  • 5 eggs (organic eggs or very fresh eggs)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 spring onion, chopped in rounds


Heat wok over medium high until it starts smoking, add oil and immediately add the tomatoes, being careful of splashing oil.  Add salt and stir fry for 2 minutes or until the tomato starts to brown in spots.  Add the wine and stir.  Add the sugar and ketchup and stir, poking/pressing at some of the tomatoes to encourage them to mush up, but leave some whole tomatoes too.  

Lower the heat, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, adding water as necessary, until the tomato is soft/saucy.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed (sometimes the tomatoes are more sour than other times).  Remove the tomatoes to a platter.  Rinse the wok clean and heat til dry.

Whisk the eggs, water and salt together until just mixed.  Heat wok over medium heat until just smoking and add 2 tbsp oil.  Slide in the egg mixture.  Have a spatula ready.  Once the eggs have cooked on the bottom most layer (which will be really fast) use your spatula to gently scrape all the cooked egg towards you, shaking the spatula gently as you do so so that any uncooked egg will run off back towards the center of the wok.  

When you have pulled all the cooked egg towards you, wait a few seconds for the run off egg to cook and then repeat.  Soon you will find that you have gathered all the folds of tender, just cooked egg up your side of the wok.  

Working quickly, toss the cooked tomatoes back in and give the whole thing a quick fold, using your spatula to break up the egg into bite size pieces, trying to distribute tomato and egg evenly.  

This should take no more than 5-10 secs or so and then turn off the heat and pour the Tomato Egg into your serving dish.  Do not over cook!  If in doubt turn off the heat sooner rather than later.  The egg should still be soft and goopy at places (it will still cook some more off the heat.)  Toss on some chopped spring onion and serve right away.

Tip:  Use a non stick wok for best results as 1) your egg won't stick to the pan and 2) you can utilize the sides of wok to keep the cooked eggs away from the heat.  We don't use any non stick coated pans but have found a properly seasoned cast carbon steel wok is crazy wonderful in the kitchen.



  1. Hi Ellen:
    I was pointed to your blog by a HK friend! Thank you so much - I have barely started going through it. I have not seen this recipe ever - it so reminds me of ages ago when my mother made it! I love your recipes - brought back memory of "old" HK, which I left in the later 60s. I particularly like the small number of ingredients that your recipes call for - before later on when people seem to think that "more is better"! I will definitely try this (and the rosemary chicken wings) soon! Thanks again!

    1. Hi H Gotts - Thanks for checking out our blog! So happy we could take you down a bit of food memory lane. I agree with you about ingredients, enough is just right! ~ellen

  2. I made this tonight, and you were right, there are no leftovers! I wanted to take a picture of it to impress my Cantonese mother but the boyfriend ate it all. Definitely saving this recipe. Thanks!

    1. Hey Ginny - Your welcome! Glad you liked it. Next time do take a photo for your mom, she'll definitely be impressed! ~ellen

  3. I dont have a proper Wok but a flat base wok, would this make a difference in the outcome of the egg texture?

    1. If you can move the egg up the sides a bit so that they are away from the hottest of the heat, then the egg texture should turn out the same. ~ellen

  4. Made these tonight for the fam and they loved it!! And yeah, no left overs. ;_;

  5. So glad the fam enjoyed it! We never have left overs either 😆~ellen

  6. Made this tonight, reminds me of the one my parents made me back home when I was young - thank you for sharing and for taking me down memory lane! :)

  7. Hi Tessa-chan -❤️ 😊 ! ~ellen