kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake
Creamy folds of stirfried egg sit intermingled with lightly-cooked fresh tomatoes.  Juice from the tomatoes is pooled on the white plate.

Today's dish rather breaks the mould of what British people (at least) might expect from a "stirfry". 蕃茄炒蛋 (fān qié chǎo dàn) translates directly as "stirfried [] eggs [] with tomatoes [蕃茄]", and this is pretty much exactly what it is.

It's a fairly simple dish, really, and though I've seen it on quite a few restaurant menus, it's also easy enough to cook at home — I often have it for a quick lunch on a weekday, served over plain rice. iLearn Culture says that it's probably the most common dish seen on family dinner tables in China.

I've also seen it listed on menus as 蕃茄炒雞蛋 (fān qié chǎo jī dàn), which is the same thing but emphasising the fact that it's a chicken (雞) egg, and as 蕃茄蛋飯 (fān qié dàn fàn), which is the same thing but served with rice. Remember also that 蕃茄 and 番茄 (both pinyinised as fān qié) are used interchangeably on menus, and you may also see a different word used for tomato: 西紅柿 (xī hóng shì).

The recipe I use is Rasa Malaysia's tomato eggs (though I like to cook the tomatoes a bit longer than she does, and I also peel them first unless I'm feeling lazy). Food Mayhem's tomato fried eggs recipe omits the spring onions, while Beijing Made Easy's version also omits the spring onions but adds garlic. Finally, the eGullet thread on tomato eggs has some discussion of the different ways to make the dish.

(The photo at the top of this post is of the version served at Royal Palace; it has a rather higher proportion of tomato than I usually use.)

Edit: and checking my RSS reader now, I see that Sunflower and Appetite For China both posted about tomato eggs at around the same time I did — now there's a coincidence!

Recipes linked in this post:

If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.

Date: 2011-04-21 11:16 pm (UTC)
laughingrat: Shatner&Nimoy eating, in costume (FUD)
From: [personal profile] laughingrat
Oo, that sounds tasty.

Date: 2011-04-21 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ex_pinetree696
Interesting! I don't think I've ever heard it referred to as 番茄炒蛋, but almost exclusively as 柿子炒鸡蛋 or 鸡蛋炒柿子. Probably just a regional thing, though.

This is one of my favorite dishes. My mother-in-law will often include green peppers and onions when she makes it, though I prefer just the plain ole egg and tomato. I also prefer more tomato than egg. I hate it when people add sugar to this dish!

Date: 2011-04-22 12:45 am (UTC)
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
From: [personal profile] thorfinn
Gack! Sugar! Yeah, hate that too. Tomatoes are sweet enough. :-)

I like to crush some garlic in the wok before putting the oil in, and maybe some dried chilli flakes or chopped fresh ones if I want more kick.

Date: 2011-04-22 10:56 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ex_pinetree696
I'm no expert of course, but I feel this dish is better when it's slightly bitter or even a little sour. Adding sugar tends to ruin it, I think. But, y'know, to each their own!

Ah, the garlic idea is great.

Date: 2011-04-22 11:02 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ex_pinetree696
How do you get menus to add to your collection? Do you ask the waiters for an extra one or are they just the one-sheet menus that you might find stuck on a door or a car windshield or something?

Also, I can't figure out which restaurant name I like better, Renmin Gongshe or Happy Smell. Ha!

Date: 2011-04-22 08:11 am (UTC)
shuripentu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shuripentu
Oh wow, my (now deceased) 嫲嫲 made this all the time – it was one of her staple, signature dishes, along with 水蛋 – and I'd always assumed it was weird fusion food that she'd come up with, since nobody on the other side of my family ever made anything like it. It looked almost exactly like that photo, except she didn't take the skins off. Ah, memories. :D

To be honest, I got really, really bored of it when I was younger, but I think it's been long enough now that I could give it a go myself. ;)

Date: 2011-04-23 09:19 am (UTC)
shuripentu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shuripentu
You should! We had 水蛋 at almost every meal we ate at 嫲嫲's and we never got sick of that; the portions always had to be exactly equal, otherwise there would be War. She always made it plain with soy sauce on top; I imagine dried scallops would give the flavour a nice kick though.

Date: 2011-04-22 09:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eatlovenoodles.blogspot.com
Is it Chinese egg & tomato season? Just seen these two other posts pop up in the last day or so!



From my experience, 蕃茄 is used in Cantonese whilst both 蕃茄 and 西紅柿 seem to be commonly used and are interchangeable terms in Mandarin.

Date: 2011-04-22 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunflower-recipes.blogspot.com
Hi Kake,
What a coincidence everyone is thinking of tomato and egg!

番茄 or 蕃茄 means foreign/western aubergine (Chinese thought tomatoes were aubergines). fān qié is the common term used in S E Asia, less common in China.

西紅柿 means western persimmon (cos persimmon does look like tomato). This term is common in China and maybe Taiwan but not other Chinese speaking countries in the world.

Date: 2011-04-23 09:13 am (UTC)
shuripentu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shuripentu
My family is from Hong Kong, and I've always heard tomatoes referred to as faan ke; 西紅柿 is totally new to me. Of course, Hong Kong is rather different from (the rest of) China, and I grew up in the North American diaspora, which presumably has its own idiosyncrasies as well.

Date: 2011-04-25 07:49 pm (UTC)
superpitching: (Default)
From: [personal profile] superpitching
Ah, I know this dish from the DS recipe book thing "can't decide what to eat" (or something like that, I have lost the game somewhere over *there*...) - eggs scrambled with chopped tomatoes and some garlic - it says it's a typical Shanghaiese (shanghainese?) family cooking dish. I've made it a few times. It is not bad!

Date: 2011-04-29 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com
Tee hee - I add sugar to mine! I love the different ways to make it.

Saw tomatoes being served with A LOT of sugar in Beijing. Like a whole mountain of it!


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