Fresh tomatoes, juicy and sweet, were a revelation to my mother. She had known about them in China, but rarely encountered them in the traditional cuisine. Still, she made the most of their availability in America. We would have them stir-fried with meats, eggs, even fish. For me, however, the most memorable dish was her simple stir-fried tomatoes. She would quarter fresh, ripe tomatoes and then stir-fry them with garlic, salt, sugar and pepper. Being a good Chinese cook, my mother valued the texture of the tomatoes, so they were cooked ever so briefly – never overcooked to a mush. The seasonings enhanced the flavour and taste of the tomatoes, making a delicious, colourful and satisfying treat. This dish takes but minutes and is a good vegetable side dish. Cherry tomatoes work just as well as the larger varieties.
Quarter the tomatoes (if you are using cherry tomatoes, leave them whole). Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, toss in the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Then chuck in the tomatoes, salt, sugar and pepper and continue to stir-fry gently for 2 minutes. Remove and serve at once.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.