The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy to make that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.
In college, after being subjected to plastic-tinned deli sushi and leftover club meeting pizza, I began craving home cooking. Specifically: simple, cozy jia chang cai, or homestyle Chinese dishes that many families, including mine, put on the weeknight dinner table. I pined after tomato-egg stir-fry the most, perhaps the simplest and coziest of all.
Ideally, the tomatoes are bursting with August ripeness and the eggs are beaten with Shaoxing or rice wine. The sweetness in the mixture, sharpened by a spoonful of sugar, almost turns it into a treat. Nearly every Chinese family has its own version; some make it sweeter, some lean more savory. Until I missed it, I didn’t realize how emblematic of home it was.
Tomato-egg stir-fry is a light, easy dish made with ingredients you likely have in your fridge. It’s quick to whip together for dinner after a long day of class, work, or travel, though I love eating it for breakfast and lunch too. Pairing it with white rice and cucumbers marinated in soy sauce makes it a complete vegetarian meal that hits just about every cravable texture and flavor—and it comes together in minutes.
Here’s how to make tomato-egg stir-fry:
Chop 2 large, ripe tomatoes into big chunks. Finely chop 1 scallion, and 1 garlic clove. In a bowl, crack 3 eggs and add a pinch of salt and 1 tsp. Shaoxing wine or rice wine. Whisk until the mixture blends into a foamy yellow liquid.
Heat a wok (or if you don’t have one, a skillet) over medium-high until it’s extremely hot, then pour in vegetable oil until it coats the bottom. Pour in the egg mixture. This is important: After about 50 seconds, when the eggs are mostly set but still somewhat runny, turn off the heat. Use chopsticks to scramble the eggs for a few seconds in the pan, then transfer them to a bowl.
Add a little more oil to the pan and reheat it over high. Pour the diced garlic into the pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and turn down the heat to medium. This part’s important too: Stir the tomatoes for about 3 minutes, until they’re soft and lots of juice pools out; they should be sitting in a shallow, simmering liquid. If the pan looks dry, add a splash of water until the tomatoes get saucy. Stir in 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. granulated sugar.
Return the eggs to the pan and quickly stir to incorporate. Keep stirring for 50 seconds while slowly adding 1 tsp. soy sauce. Add most of the diced scallion and give the mixture a few lazy stirs. Transfer everything to a plate and sprinkle the remaining scallion on top.