My mother often made this quick and easy dish, using ingredients that were easily available and relatively inexpensive. Here she employed the inventive Chinese technique of combining seemingly disparate ingredients into a delectable blend. Although I don’t know if the recipe is authentically Chinese, it certainly remains deep in my taste memory. Mother often waited until I returned from school and then quickly stir-fried the ingredients together: savoury, rich bits of beef with soft ripe tomatoes pulled together with strands of egg in a sauce.
225g (8oz) minced beef
2teaspoons plus 1½tablespoonslight soy sauce
1½teaspoons plus 1tablespoonShaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
5teaspoonstoasted sesame oil
2tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1tablespoon coarsely chopped fermented black beans
Put the meat in a medium-sized bowl and mix it thoroughly with 2teaspoons of light soy sauce, 1½teaspoons of rice wine, 1teaspoon of sesame oil and the cornflour. Set it aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then mix in 2teaspoons of sesame oil and the salt and set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, quickly toss in the garlic, ginger, black beans and spring onions. Stir-fry this mixture for 30 seconds. Mix in the beef and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the meat until it begins to lose its raw look. Pour in the dark soy sauce and 1½tablespoons of light soy sauce, 1tablespoon of rice wine, the salt, sugar and pepper. Give the mixture several good stirs, then pour in the chicken stock. When the mixture comes to the boil, add the tomatoes. When it starts bubbling vigorously, drizzle in the egg mixture and stir it slowly. When the egg has set, pour in the remaining sesame oil and give the mixture two more stirs.