Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry (西红柿炒鸡蛋)

Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry | omnivorescookbook.comTomato and egg stir-fry is classic, simple and delicious. It is the dish that overseas Chinese students miss the most. The moment I pour the tomato and egg over rice, I can smell the sweet, sour and savory aroma that brings back nostalgic feelings of childhood.

Tomato and egg stir-fry (西红柿炒鸡蛋, xi hong shi chao ji dan) is such a classic Chinese dish that it would feel strange not to write about it. Among the many simple and classic Chinese dishes, this one is the most comforting. It has become a must-have at almost every school and office cafeteria. Chinese people my age used to eat this dish all the time growing up, and it’s something we still crave once in a while.

Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry | omnivorescookbook.com

Good Old Days

Back in my early days, everyone in school or college had to participate in military training for sessions ranging from two weeks to a month. During the training, we lived in a really shabby place in the mountains, 20 people to a room, with cold showers and food slightly more appetizing than pig slop. There was no meat, of course, but once in a while, we got the chance to eat tomato and egg stir-fry. I won’t go into details other than to recall that a big plate of it would disappear in less than a minute. It was pure happiness, a feeling of being home, that I seldom felt at the military camp.

Fast forward to my days living in Japan, when tomato and egg stir-fry became a routine, and I absolutely had to cook it once a week. Why didn’t I eat it more often? Because tomatoes are expensive in Japan and were a luxury for us poor students. On the other hand, Japanese tomatoes were the best I’d ever tasted. Most tomatoes available in China are grown in greenhouses and are tough and flavorless. In Japan, you can only find tomatoes when they’re in season. They are small, with skin thinner than paper and a super juicy and creamy texture. They have a sweet and very tomato-y taste. They are perfect stir fried with egg. When the two were served together over freshly steamed rice, I really didn’t need anything else at all. It was the best!

Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry | omnivorescookbook.com

Now, for a few details on cooking this nostalgic goodie. Although the dish needs as few as six ingredients and ten minutes to prepare, it can be done in many different styles. If you’ve ever lived in China, you probably have your favorite. Although I listed my favorite combination in the recipe below, here are a few ways to alter it.

Create Your Own Favorite Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry

  1. Use half a cup of chopped green onion instead of garlic. The finished dish will be sweeter and have less pungent garlicky taste.
  2. Double the amount of sugar. The recipe below has a sweet and savory taste that is not extreme on either end. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Also note that you might need to adjust the amount of sugar slightly, depending on the quality of tomato you’re using. If the tomato is on the sour side, you’ll need to add extra sugar to balance that sourness.
  3. Create a more savory dish by halving the amount of sugar . The sugar serves to balance the sourness of the tomato, so reducing the sugar eliminates some sweetness in the finished dish.
  4. For a very soft egg – mix a quarter teaspoon of salt into the beaten eggs; in step 1 – stir the egg as soon as you pour it into the skillet, and transfer the egg to a plate when half cooked; in step 2 – add the egg back into the skillet after seasoning the tomato.
  5. To get more sauce, making the dish almost like a stew – double the amount of tomatoes, chop them into smaller chunks, and cook them for a longer time over medium heat, until they have almost melted into a paste, before adding back the egg. By the way, this is the typical cafeteria style – it allows the chef to use fewer eggs and cut costs 😉

Did you find your favorite style in the list? If not, drop me a note below and I will add it!

Tutorial Video

You can find the video how to make tomato and egg stir-fry on my YouTube channel!


5.0 from 5 reviews
Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry (西红柿炒鸡蛋)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The recipe yields 2 servings as main with steamed rice, 4 servings as side. Slightly reduce cooking time if you halve the recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 big tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granular sugar
  • (optional) chopped green onion for garnish
  • Steamed rice to serve with
  • Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium sized skillet over medium high heat. When oil is ready, add egg and cook until the bottom side is done, but the top is still raw, about 30 seconds. Stir with a spatula, chopping the egg into bite sized pieces, until egg is just cooked. Turn to lowest heat, transfer egg to a plate, and set aside.
    Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  2. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil and the garlic and turn back to medium high heat. Stir the garlic a few times until fragrant. Add tomato and stir fry until the edges are slightly charred and texture becomes soft, about 1 minute. Add egg back into skillet and spread salt and sugar on top of it. Quickly mix everything together will a spatula until evenly seasoned.
    Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
    Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  3. Serve warm over steamed rice.

The nutrition facts are calculated based on 1 of the 4 servings generated by the recipe without rice.

Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry Nutrition Facts | omnivorescookbook.com

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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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24 thoughts on “Classic Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry (西红柿炒鸡蛋)

  1. Thomas

    This is the dish that catches every non-Chinese person off-guard. “Tomatoes aren’t Chinese!” is the initial reaction. “Wow, that’s really delicious, simple, and comforting,” is the secondary reaction.

    As a kid, I used to put ketchup on scrambled eggs, and this dish matches the taste of that pretty well, so the dish was pure nostalgia from the first time I tried it.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Kelly

    Wow, this dish just brought me back to my childhood too. My mom used to make a similar dish like this since I was the picky eater in the family and wouldn’t try new foods but I would always eat anything with eggs 🙂 I could totally go for a bowl of this for dinner tonight!

    Reply
  3. Helen @ Scrummy Lane

    Hello! How wonderful! I once visited China, not even for a week, but I still remember this dish! The tomatoes were fairly runny, as I remember, but it was delicious. I haven’t seen the dish since, but I remember being quite surprised that that was ‘a thing’ in China. I guess it’s like the ‘beans on toast’ that we Brits used to have as children!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Helen, yep, it’s ‘a thing’ here and I believe it’s children’s favorite! Yes, there is a way to cook the tomato into a runny paste, especially in restaurants or cafeteria. I like both ways 🙂

      Reply
  4. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I remember I had this before. It’s really delicious! It’s so simple to make too. I have some tomatoes and eggs to finish tomorrow, so I gotta try this for my lunch! They are always in my fridge, so I can quickly fix this dish. 🙂 Thanks for sharing a great recipe, Maggie!

    Reply
  5. [email protected] Eats

    I love your blog because you show me all these classic Chinese dishes that are so simple to make and yet I have never tried them (but know instantly I will love them!). I really love this one! I can see myself making this for breakfast. Is that weird?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Not at all! I eat all sorts of stir fried dish through out the day. Normally I don’t eat a lot for breakfast, but somehow I can finish a big plate of fried rice 😉

      Reply
  6. Robyn

    I love eggs and tomatoes together but I’ve never used this method of preparation. Omelettes are a quick and easy meal after work for me and now I have two options and I always have green onions on hand – they seem to add so much to almost any dish. Love this, Maggie!

    Reply
  7. Christine | No Gojis No Glory

    What an interesting back story Maggie! I had no idea even women had to participate in military training. That camp did not sound fun… I’ve never had this before, but it looks delicious and filling! Is it weird to have this for breakfast?…sans the rice of course.

    Reply
  8. Jo

    Your recipe is by far my favorite. The sauce method (let tomatoes cook to a thick sauce) really works for me. Sometimes I use cilantro rather than green onion if I am out of spring onions.

    Reply
  9. Jen

    This is such a great dish! Thanks for giving the detailed recipe and the alternatives. When I’ve looked up this recipe online before or asked Chinese friends I couldn’t get exact amounts of the ingredients. You are just supposed to make it “to taste”. The problem is I’m not good at that!! I know what tastes good but I don’t know how to get there! So thanks for your recipe.
    You gave instructions for making more sauce. I want to use it for a noodle sauce. When I lived in Shanxi a common dish was noodles with tomato and egg sauce – a kind of da lu mian. Could I use this recipe for that sauce?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Jen, thanks so much for your kind words! Yes I came across the same problem when I read Chinese recipes. To many “to taste”!
      Yes you can use this recipe for the da lu mian sauce. Just make sure you cook the tomato long enough so the dish turns juicy.
      My family has a special way to enjoy the noodle sauce. We make a Beijing style fried pork sauce and then combine it with the tomato and egg sauce. The noodles taste SO GOOD! Check it out if you’re interested: http://omnivorescookbook.com/homemade-zha-jiang-mian-fried-sauce-noodles/
      Happy cooking and let me know how your dish turns out 🙂

      Reply
  10. Stephanie

    Maggie, I love this dish – I also grew up eating it at home! Brings back a lot of nostalgia. It’s one of those dishes I always make thinking I’ll have leftovers but somehow I end up eating it all in one sitting…

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Stephanie, it’s totally the same here! It is always one of my favorite comfort dishes and it is the first dish I’ve learned to cook when I was a kid 🙂 And I agree, there is no way to have leftovers for this one!

      Reply