All Consuming – Tomatoes and Eggs

October 21, 2010

I keep meaning to take pictures for these, but I always forget whenever I make them, and by the time I remember it is usually eaten, or just doesn’t look very appetizing. I guess that is the unfortunate curse of perishables. I’ll try and remember for the next one.


I’ve met a lot of Chinese people in my life. It is one of the perks of being Chinese. There are a lot of us and we tend to gravitate towards the same places and do the same kind of things. One of these things is apparently the ability to make a Chinese dishes called “Tomatoes and Eggs.” I don’t know if there’s a formal name for it, but that’s what I’ve called it my whole life (in Chinese of course).

The recipe for the dish is pretty simple:

4 Tomatoes
4 Eggs(scrambled)
Soy Sauce

Mix together and cook for 10-20 minutes.

Really nothing remarkable. But literally every Chinese person I have ever met knows how to make some variation of this dish. What’s really interesting though is that despite its popularity, I have never seen this dish for sale in a restaurant of any sort, nor have I seen anyone make it when we’re invited over for dinner. I think it’s just so common and simple that people are embarrassed to make it for other people.

As a result, I think it ends up being one of those dishes that just gets passed on from generation to generation within the family. This in turn produces some interesting variations in the recipe between families. I’ve known some people who like to add sugar or scallions or MSG. The amount of soy sauce is super variable. Sometimes it’s made super dark, or very light. It could be a dry dish, or cooked until it’s almost a sauce.

Things like this is why I find family recipes really fascinating. It’s almost like it has got its own genetics that mutate and propagate as it gets passed from generation to generation. I think the modern age has kind of killed a bit of that. With widespread books and the internet, a lot of recipes are becoming pretty homogeneous. So sad.


5 Responses to “All Consuming – Tomatoes and Eggs”

  1. klaygenie Says:

    Oh, I love tomatoes and eggs! Though I do seem to have an inability to make it well – it just does not work out ever.
    But really what makes me laugh is all the other super Chinese things in this post. Like being embarrassed about making a simple dish for company. Or adding MSG to a dish. So Chinese.

    • Min Says:

      Yeah.. I don’t really like to use MSG, but my parents sometimes cook with it. It’s too bad it’s got such a bad rap, it’s got an interesting taste that really define certain Chinese dishes.

  2. Eric Mesa Says:

    I think there are a lot of family dishes that trace back to poorer times like mushy rice or just having an egg an soy sauce for breakfast. A lot of American Southern African-American food is like this. Eating parts of the animal that no one else eats and/or that is very unhealthy. Why? It’s all they had to eat during slavery times. Over the generations, people had developed a taste for it from their slave grandparents making it and so it continues.

    As you know, in the recent past things were pretty bad in China. Actually, from what I’ve read in history books and other sources, China never had a large middle class. It appears to have been royalty/nobles and poor people. So of course they need to have dishes that are easy to make and don’t require too much meat. So, something that “poor people eat” would definitely be seen as something embarrassing to serve to company.

  3. Dan Says:

    This sounds awful.

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