Fan qie chao dan (Tomatoes and Eggs)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

This comfort food from China with basic elements of tomatoes and eggs scrambled together is almost easier to make than to eat.

More elaborate preparations call for the tomatoes to be blanched and peeled so that you do not end up with tough pieces of tomato skin throughout, but I find that as long as you slice the tomatoes thinly the skins are not a problem. You could also add herbs - garlic fried for a few seconds before eggs are initially added to the oil, or finely sliced basil or oregano added during the final cooking stage. A scattering of chopped green onions finishes the dish nicely too. The oil has been reduced as much as I am comfortable; if you want to reduce it more keep in mind that it will compromise the dish.

Use two large eggs for every one large tomato. Heat at least 3 tbs of oil in a wok or frying pan over medium high heat and cut tomatoes in thin pieces. When the oil has come to a shimmer pour in the eggs and cook for several seconds until they are mostly set but still very soft. Remove eggs from pan and put in the tomatoes; cook for about a minute and a half until they are heated through and releasing their juices. Pour eggs back to the pan and mix them into the tomatoes with a generous amount of salt and pepper. The seasonings here may seem common but getting the amounts right makes the difference between an ordinary and lick-the-plate dish. Let the eggs cook just a bit more in the tomato juices and serve with toast or leftover rice.

My favourite way to eat this is over wilted spinach drizzled with sesame oil. (Arrange one handful of spinach on a plate and microwave for approximately one minute until limp but still bright green. Drizzle with one tbs sesame oil.) All ready in less than five minutes, faster than any fast food.

Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop is a fantastic cookbook that I am now reading with recipes from Sichuan province. She includes a recipe for fan qie chao dan that differs slightly from this one and then turns the same ingredients into a soup by cooking the eggs in one piece, like an omelet, then adding stock and some greens along with the tomatoes to make soup. With plenty of garlic, this would be great to make for someone under the weather.


Sara said...

This sounds fantastic. I'll have to try this on the weekend if the weather stays cool.

Pepper said...

Hi Sara, yes give it a try - it is too easy not to try at least once.

Videon, great suggestion. I will do that next time.