Of all the produce I find during summer here in America, tomatoes are the most beautiful to me. They come in all colors, varieties, shapes, flavors and textures. So, it came naturally for me to cook this Chinese Beef with Tomatoes for dinner. This was inspired by a previous blog post where I had written about the origins of Jersey tomatoes, which to my surprise, are well-known to many who live outside of the Garden State.
Having watched my father grow huge, red salad tomatoes in our farm in the Philippines during my childhood and savored them in my mother’s cooking, I am partial to vine-ripened ones. When I see them now at farm stands or markets, they’re the first ones I purchase.
I have enjoyed tomatoes in different places and countries. Italy’s tomatoes are as sweet as sugar, so you can imagine how divine Italian food is in its home country. Philippine tomatoes are mostly small and tart. They are perfect as souring agents for sinigang (tamarind stew), pinangat (tomato stews) or pesa (stews with ginger broth) dishes. And tomatoes add color and sweet-tart flavors to pinakbet (vegetable stew in shrimp paste) or ginisa (sautéed) dishes.
When I cooked this beef and tomato dish, I marveled at how easy it was to put together. It was a beef stir-fry dish with salty flavors that was complemented by the sweet, succulence of vine-ripened Jersey tomatoes. This is the kind of meal that cooks fast and easy. It is ideal for busy days or hot, scorching summer nights when you want to get out of the kitchen quickly.
No matter, this meal celebrates the goodness of fresh, wholesome produce abundant around us – something we should never lose sight of and savor every chance we have.
Chinese Beef with Tomatoes
- 1 pound beef sirloin (or use flank steak; or skirt steak) sliced into 2-inch length strips
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon xiao xing rice wine (or use dry sherry) divided; use 1 teaspoon for marinade, the rest for the sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce for sauce
- 1/2 Tablespoon toyo (soy sauce) for sauce
- 1 whole white or yellow onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 to 5 large fresh, ripe red tomatoes about 1 pound; use any variety of red, ripe tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 to 2 bunches steamed bok choy: for serving
- boiled rice for serving
Prepare the beef with marinade:
- In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch. Blend till constarch is diluted and there are no more lumps. Pour this over the beef strips. Toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Prepare the sauce:
- In a separate small bowl mix together: Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and rice wine. Set aside.
To cook the beef with tomatoes:
- In a large wok or skillet, over medium-high heat, add the cooking oil. Add the onions and garlic. Stir fry for 1 minute till fragrant and onions are translucent.
- Add the sliced tomatoes to the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes till slices are soft, but are still slightly firm. Pour the sauce into the skillet. Mix well.
- Add the marinated beef slices. Stir-fry the beef together with the tomato slices for 2 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper and sesame oil. Cover and continue cooking for 5 to 6 minutes more till beef is cooked and tomatoes are soft. Serve warm with rice and steamed bok choy on the side.
To steam bok choy
- Wash bok choy thoroughly to remove grits especially from the bottom. Slice off heavy bottom part. Place bok choy in a vegetable steamer on top of boiling water. Sprinkle a dash of salt over bok choy. Cover and steam over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain liquid and add to the Chinese Beef with Tomatoes just before serving.
- Xiao xing rice wine (also known as Shao-hsing rice wine) is an aromatic wine made by fermenting glutinous rice and often is the standard Chinese cooking spirit used in most stir-fried or braised dishes. Do not confuse it with Chinese rice wine vinegar. (From "The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook" by Patricia Tanumihardja).
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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