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Stir-fried Eggs and Tomato and Garlic Spinach

December 27, 2010

I posted once about comfort food— but this, if I could truly only pick one meal to survive on for the rest of my life, this might be it.

Someone in China reading this post might find it laughable that I’m even bothering to post a recipe for stir-fried eggs and tomatoes, essentially a childhood/home cooking standby on the same level as grilled cheese. After all, only three basic ingredients are necessary: eggs, tomatoes, and salt.

And yet, I’ve tried so many variations– everyone has their own style. Some cooks add sugar, some (like my dad) find the dish too bland on its own and add soy sauce, ginger and scallions, but either way, the effect is the same: the tomatoes (fresh, not canned) dissolve into a rich sauce whose sweetness compliments that of the eggs. The resulting gravy (it really is almost like a gravy) can then be served with either rice or noodles. It’s soupy, savory, sweet, and oh-so-nourishing. And the best part? You can find it ANYWHERE in China. I once stumbled into some local joint at 11 PM, sat next to some old men wearing their shirts tucked in a-la-britney spears (common in the Beijing summer heat) and drinking beer, and ordered this dish. I was served what must have been half a dozen eggs, a pound of tomatoes, and an entire rice cooker of rice. I made a serious dent in it, don’t worry. Similarly, a coworker of mine this summer ordered this dish at every restaurant we went to, no matter if it was Korean or Hunanese.

My point? You can’t go wrong with stir-fried eggs and tomatoes. I’m still tweaking the recipe every day, and yet it still doesn’t taste like Beijing. Who knows why? Maybe the tomatoes are different, maybe they just added an inordinate amount of MSG… but even so, it still tastes delicious and takes all of five minutes to make. Give it a try next time you’re debating between scrambled eggs and an omelette.

I recommend serving it with any stir-fried green vegetable, preferably spinach with garlic or broccoli/bok choy with ginger.

Stir Fried Eggs with Tomato 西红柿炒鸡蛋

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 5 eggs
  • tomatoes (mid size 4-5–adjust accordingly)
  • salt or soy sauce (the soy sauce will discolor the dish)
  • sugar (optional)
  • 3 scallions, chopped (optional)
  • 2 TBS chopped ginger (optional)
  • 1 TBSP peanut oil


  • Step 1: Prep. Beat the eggs with a little salt (some people add a little water). Slice the tomatoes into wedges
  • Optional: Finely chop the scallions (3 stalks). Peel and finely chop ginger (about 2 TBLS after chopping). KEEP GINGER AND SCALLIONS SEPARATE.
  • Step 2: Cooking. Heat oil till very hot but not yet smoking. Pour in eggs and stir, making small (but not tiny pieces). Avoid browning and certainly burning. When firm, add tomatoes and immediately add ginger and half of the scallions. Stir. Then add soy sauce (optional), a pinch of salt, 1 tsp sugar (optional). Stir.
  • turn heat to medium high, and keep stirring. The tomatoes should start to release their juices.
  • Turn down to medium and cover. Stir occasionally for about 3-5 minutes. Then taste for saltiness/sweetness, adding salt/sugar accordingly.
  • Add the remaining scallions, if using, and stir. Serve.

NOTE: Avoid cooking too long. It may be quicker with ripe tomatoes. You don’t want the tomatoes to disappear, just enough so the dish achieves a sauce-like consistency.

Garlic Spinach

Ingredients (serves 1.25 Octopus Gourmets, maybe 2-3 normal people)

  • 1 lb spinach, washed, crowns and leaves separated
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 TBSP peanut oil
  • Water
  • Salt


  • Heat oil in a large wok over high heat until it starts smoking.
  • Add the garlic and stir until it starts to burn around the edges.
  • Add spinach, salt, and let it wilt, adding water as you go.
  • Let some of the water evaporate, then turn down the heat and simmer until completely wilted. Taste for salt.
  • Devour. Spinach has calcium!


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