Hetty McKinnon’s veggie-forward recipes are the things of lore, passed onto friends and family with a satisfied stamp of approval. Just as many of Hetty’s recipes are often shared between households, the recipes found in her cookbooks often stem from her own family.
Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day, $15.69 on Amazon
Her newest cookbook, “Family,” is an ode to that understanding, showcasing a range of recipes that are fundamentally meant to be shared. A big portion of Hetty’s recipes link back to her Chinese heritage, and, in turn, her mother’s cooking. Hetty’s mother’s stir-fried tomato and egg is a perfect example of a recipe that’s been handed down from generation to generation, a dish that’s ubiquitous among Cantonese homes.
This stew is bound by a mix of tomatoes, eggs, and sugar. This foundational trifecta is one for the books, which builds a comforting stew that’s quickly whipped up with a short list of pantry staples.
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To make it, tomatoes are quickly boiled, their skins peeled and discarded, then simmered with ginger, brown sugar, and a bit of water until thickened. Beaten eggs are whisked in until lightly scrambled. Top with a sprinkling of raw shallots and serve over a bowl of rice white.
Want to hear more from Hetty? Tune into this week’s Table Talk episode, where the cookbook author enlightens us on the power of plant-based lifestyle and how you, too, can just as easily fall in love with vegetables.
Excerpt from Family By Hetty McKinnon (Prestel, 2019).
My Mother’s Stir-Fried Tomato and Egg Recipe
When I ring my mother from New York on the ‘landline’ – and not on the usual FaceTime which is her time to see the kids – she knows that I’m calling for a recipe. She answers the phone with glee, as there is nothing she loves more than telling me how to cook. This is her tomato and egg ‘stew’. In truth, it is weird. First of all, because Cantonese don’t eat a lot of tomatoes. And then to team it with eggs. And then add sugar. The mind boggles. But somehow, amidst the discordant flavour profiles, it works. This dish is the epitome of Cantonese home-style cooking and almost every family has their own version of this dish.
Tips: If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use canned peeled tomatoes. The more traditional way of preparing this dish is to scramble the eggs separately and then to mix it with the tomato sauce. You can try this if you prefer the egg more ‘solid.’
My Mother's Stir-Fried Tomato and Egg
- 4 tomatoes (about 21 oz)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- Sea salt and white pepper
- Cooked white rice, to serve
- Set up a large bowl with ice and cold water – this is your ice bath for peeling the tomatoes. Boil a pot of water. Mark a small ‘x’ at the bottom of each tomato and add them to the boiling water. The skin will wrinkle and split – this should take 60–90 seconds. 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 the skin. Chop the tomato flesh.
- Add some oil to a saucepan along with the chopped tomatoes and ginger, and stir well. Cover and cook over a medium–low heat for 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and a splash of water, cover again and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Lightly season the beaten eggs with a little sea salt and a small pinch of white pepper.
- Increase the heat for the tomatoes to high and very slowly trickle the beaten eggs into the tomato mixture, allowing the heat to cook the eggs. Once the eggs have set into solid pieces, stir gently to break them up a little. Taste and season with sea salt.
- Top the stir-fried tomato and egg with the shallots and serve with white rice.
Header image by Luisa Brimble.