I grew up running the streets of Chinatown. My parents had a mom and pop business right in the heart of Chinatown on Grant Ave. (Yep, Grant Ave…San Francisco…California…USA made quasi-famous by the musical Flower Drum Song). There are a gazillion restaurants to eat at or to take-out but the trick is knowing where to go for the best of whatever you crave. The best egg tarts? Golden Gate Bakery. BBQ Pork Buns and dim sum? Yung Kee (sadly gone now). Best stuffed flat noodles? Sam Wo. Best fried chicken Wings? Gourmet Kitchen. Call me for the 411.
My favorite down-home dishes were and are found in quirky little hole in the wall places. Many of these joints are a fusion of Asian and American food-you will find beef stew, apple pie, stir-fried beef with bitter greens and wonton soup all on the same menu. I love going to Kam Po next to the Broadway Tunnel where rice plates are a mainstay. A mountain of rice covered with crispy roast duck or soy sauce chicken with a side of stir-fried garlicky greens, my go-to quick meal.
A couple of weeks ago I was perusing the NYT cooking site and a recipe for stir-fried tomatoes and eggs caught my eye. This immediately transported me back to my days in Chinatown. This is a quick, simple recipe that is perfect after a long day at work and slow commute home.
A little music to cook by, Grant Ave. from Flower Drum Song- Pat Suzuki and Ensemble
As soon as you walk in the door make a pot of rice. This will be the rate-limiting step of the entire meal. In fact, you will have a couple of minutes to kick back and relax before starting on the eggs. Yes, it’s that easy.
The eggs are flavored with sesame oil and salt. I like to whisk the eggs lightly so that there are still streaks of egg white left. For fluffier (technical term) eggs, whisk them thoroughly. Scramble them quickly until barely set and remove them to a plate. Stir fry the tomatoes to the desired doneness. Add the eggs to the tomatoes and cook just long enough to stir the tomatoes and eggs together. A word of caution I am that person who orders scrambled eggs, very soft and runny. In fact, the runnier the better, so cook the eggs to your taste. Scoop the steaming hot rice into a bowl or on a plate, top with the tomato-egg mixture and garnish with green onions. Turn on the tube, plop yourself down on the couch and watch your favorite reruns while gobbling up your eggs and rice. You deserve it, there’s nothing better.
If you need a protein, throw in bite-sized pieces of chicken, beef or shrimp while cooking the green onions and tomatoes. Don’t have green onions? Use thinly sliced shreds of yellow or red onions.
- 6 eggs
- Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 pound beefsteak tomatoes in season, or 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice-don't even, its here because its in the original recipe-bleah
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger (from about 1/4-inch nub)
- Steamed rice, for serving
- In a bowl, beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon salt, sesame oil and rice wine or sherry.
- In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until well combined, then stir in the sugar (can substitute brown sugar) and ketchup.
- Core and cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch wide wedges.
- Heat a wide nonstick skillet over high heat with 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil shimmers, add most of the scallions, saving some to garnish. If adding protein or another vegetable, add now. Cook, stirring, until very aromatic, about 20 seconds.
- Add the eggs, and cook, stirring well with a spatula or chopsticks, until just set but still runny, about 45 seconds.
- Remove eggs to a plate and wipe out the pan.
- Reheat the pan over high heat with the remaining tablespoon of oil. When it is hot, add the ginger and cook until aromatic, about 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste; cook, stirring occasionally, until the flesh has softened but still has some shape and the juices have begun to form a sauce, 2-3 minutes. (If using canned tomatoes, add the juice as well and cook about 4 minutes, to reduce it to a saucelike consistency.)
- Reduce the heat to medium. Give the cornstarch-ketchup mixture a stir in its bowl, then stir it into the pan. Cook, stirring, until the sauce returns to a boil and thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, sugar or more ketchup — you want a savory, tart-sweet sauce. Stir the eggs in the bowl to cut up the curds a bit, then return them to the pan. Cook, stirring, for a few seconds to finish cooking the eggs and to combine. Top with the reserved scallions, and serve with steamed rice.