Tomato-Curry Chicken

Tomatoes are a relatively recent addition to Chinese cuisine, having been introduced only about one hundred years ago. Chinese cooks in the West, finding tomatoes in abundance in their adopted land, quickly recognized their versatility. For Chinese restaurants, tomatoes were ideal because they need little cooking, their colour brightens up any dish and in Chinese culture the colour red means happiness.

Of the many tomato combinations found on Chinese restaurant menus, one of my favourites is the following, which mixes chicken with tomatoes and a touch of curry, just enough of the spice to enliven the dish but not so much as to detract from the fresh tomato flavour.


  • 450 g (1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or 675 g (1Β½ lb) with skin and bones
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 115 g (4 oz) sliced onions
  • 1Β½ tablespoons Madras curry powder or paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 450 g (1 lb) fresh tomatoes, quartered


Cut the chicken into 4 cm (1Β½ in) pieces and combine it with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of rice wine, the sesame oil and the cornflour. Let the mixture marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until hot. Swirl in the groundnut oil and, when very hot and slightly smoking, throw in the chicken and stir-fry for 10 minutes, or until browned. Add the garlic and onions and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the curry powder and sugar. Pour in 1 tablespoon of rice wine, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and the oyster sauce. Toss in the tomatoes and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Serve at once.