Chinese Tomato and Egg (Xihongshi Chaojidan) Recipe

By Billie Tang

Illustration by Shilfina Putri

I work as a curator in Rockbund Art Museum, a non-profit institution based in the Shanghai. I thought maybe to share a few of recipes. There just from experience and different situations of living under lockdown here. Iโ€™ll try to keep it simple with ingredients that are easier to find, minimal and wholesome, can whip it out in 10-15 mins, good as main dish or for topping on noodles.

Ingredients (serves at least two people):

  • One or two medium tomatoes or one big one and a handful small cherry ones (the second option is more luxury because you get nicer flavours)
  • Three spring onions
  • Piece of ginger to your taste
  • sugar, salt at hand for seasoning
  • Sesame oil, not essential
  • Light soy sauce, is possible to do without
  • Two or three eggs
  • Grape seed oil or any oil

Methods:

  • Score large crosses on the skin of the tomatoes with a knife.
  • Put tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water for 30 seconds or so, enough to make the skin loose and easier to take off with hands (that’s the next step).
  • Once peeled, cut the tomatoes in quarters and set to one side.
  • You also need to prep ginger and spring onions after.
  • For spring onion, slice thinly, save a third of the green part of the stark for garnish, the rest will be used for stir frying (mixture of white part and some green parts).
  • For the ginger, cut about an inch piece, then grate into a mince.
  • Add oil into a wok or frying pan, so you have something like 1cm deep pool.
  • Get it really hot, beat the eggs until smooth texture, and throw in when it gets to smoking point.
  • The egg will start bubbling and curdling into a nice form, then the trick is to use a chopstick to go from the edge of the floating egg, and you want to move the chopstick inside so that more runnier parts of the floating egg hit the oil and starts to cook and build a nicer wavy shape.
  • As the oil is hot, this will take around 2mins of cooking time, just make sure not to overdo the egg, look at top surface and make sure its not too runny, but has a sheen that is still not completely solid – when it gets to that stage you want to take it off the heat, separate egg from oil and put to one side.
  • When egg is ready, take the fried scrambled egg out of the wok, pour the excess oil but leave enough to stir fry the tomatoes.
  • Throw together the spring onion and ginger mince first.
  • Flip or mix everything so its coated with oil.
  • You want to allow the fragrance to come out but not to overcook and burn it, so moving is important, you have to judge using sight and smell.
  • When it becomes fragrant, throw all the peeled tomatoes into the wok
  • If you like a slightly thick sauce can at this point add a teaspoon of corn starch too, also option to add some soy sauce but recently I prefer to not add.
  • Then you want to flip the tomatoes to stir fry (youtube wok flipping instructions its fun!).
  • Can do this a couple of times to make sure everything is evenly coated.
  • Now at this point it depends on preferences, some people like to keep tomato crunchy others like it pulverised into a sauce.
  • Either way you want to check the flavour by tasting the sauce, it might be too sour depending on the tomatoes so at this point you season with salt and add sugar to taste, some people also like to add a touch of tomato paste or ketchup, I prefer to keep it natural.
  • If you like more texture, then add the egg when the tomatoes still have their shape but there is some fluid seeping out, and flip or stir so that the egg seeps in the tomato flavour.
  • If you like more sauce, then add half a cup of water and put lid on work, check when the mixture is reduced to ideal sauce consistency and is bubbling, before adding the eggs like the above step.
  • Cooking time is fast after you add back the eggs into the tomato, as its just about helping the egg pick up flavour.
  • Can google images to look at how the mixture should look like.
  • Can add two teaspoons of sesame oil to give it a nice fragrant taste to finish.
  • The taste should be a nice sour kick, but its balanced with salt and tiny bit of sugar, the egg ideally is not overcooked and has absorbed flavour of the tomato.
  • Take off heat and can serve as a stand-alone side dish.
  • Or you can add on top of noodles, for this I like to add a tablespoon of dark Chinese vinegar and light soy sauce, then add the noodles, then a spoon of sesame paste, then the tomato egg.
  • For both versions, the last step is to sprinkle spring onions on top as the garnish.