The recipe is an unassuming showstopper, offering all the distinctive sweet umami flavour of the classic Chinese dish, but with a very different sensibility. Serve with bread (or dare I say, rice?) to mop up the tomatoey juice.
This is a classic hybrid dish, a clashing of cultures with spectacular results. Two loves combined – Chinese tomato and egg, a dish I tolerated growing up but now adore as an adult, reworked as a shakshuka.
- ice cubes
- 4 (about 600 g) beefsteak tomatoes
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2.5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 onion, sliced into thin wedges
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- a handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 shallots, finely sliced sea salt and white pepper
- bread and chilli oil, to serve (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Set up a large bowl with ice and cold water – this is your ice bath for peeling the tomatoes. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Score a small ‘x’ at the bottom of each tomato and add them to the boiling water until the skins wrinkle and split – this should take 1–1½ minutes. Remove from the water and drop them straight into your ice bath. Once the tomatoes are cool, lift them out of the water and peel away their skin. Chop the tomato flesh.
2. In a frying pan over medium–high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil along with the ginger and onion; stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato, then reduce the heat to medium–low and cook, covered, for
5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and a splash of water, and squash the tomato a little to break it up. Cover and cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Make four little indents in the tomato mixture and gently crack one egg into each hole. Season with sea salt and white pepper. Replace the lid and cook over low heat for 5–6 minutes, until the whites are just set. Scatter with the coriander and shallot and serve with everything oil and bread, if using.
This recipe is from 'To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon (Plum, RRP $39.99) Photography by Hetty McKinnon.