“番茄炒蛋”: a plated dish

番茄炒蛋, or tomato-fried eggs, are a childhood staple for me, and probably every Chinese/Taiwanese person. Simply put, it’s scrambled eggs with tomato, topped with scallions and/or cilantro. A very humble dish, and because of that, a great blank canvas/ inspiration for a prettier, more complex one. My mom’s version included ginger, since it provided a little heat, and because ginger was good for you, so I wanted to actually make sure that eggs, tomato, ginger, scallion, and cilantro were represented fairly in the dish when I was conceptualizing it. I wanted to take inspiration from my experiences with Italian cuisine, since between risotto or pasta, those both could easily translate the flavors of 番茄炒蛋 into something interesting. I went with pasta, ultimately, because it was more different than trying to use essentially all of the same ingredients again. That, and a stuffed pasta can look so beautiful if done correctly. So for my dish, I went with the most egg-forward of pasta, with an uovo in raviolo, egg yolk raviolo. When I think tomatoes and pasta, I think red sauce, and that’s hideous to plate up, or even to cook(whenever I make butter chicken, cleaning tomato residue from my stove is the WORST). So I went a lighter route, with a ginger-tomato consommé. I knew that with the consommé, being a clear broth, I could still capture the flavors of tomato, but it would be delicate, and just prettier to present.

For me, anyways, egg yolk ravioli needs to have ricotta surrounding the egg yolk to complete the eating experience of it. But I was not about to use ricotta cheese, since that’s an ingredient that is too left-field of the cuisine that I’m trying to represent here, and Asian cuisine typically steers clear of dairy anyways. That and I had a better idea already: whipped tofu. Tofu, when treated correctly, can taste extremely similar to fresh mozzarella cheese, a perfect, dairy-free substitute. I opted to whip it with miso and salt, just to guarantee that it has flavor, but nothing that would clash with the flavors that I had going on already. The miso just adds a layer of umami that brings out the nuttiness of the tofu, while all of that will pair well with the consommé and the egg yolk in terms of adding more seasoning and bringing together those flavors with some substance and body. For the last components of my dish, I went with an herb oil using scallions and cilantro, micro cilantro to have that delicate touch, and some sliced heirloom cherry tomatoes for color. For my herb oil, I opted for extra virgin olive oil, and yes, I know that somebody will think that I’m contradicting my statement about not using ricotta in this, but the extra virgin oil adds a grassiness that actually highlights the herbaceous notes in both the scallion and cilantro, without actually taking away from the dish. That and the reaction between the tofu and the olive oil, there’s almost like an umami effect there that really brings the dish to life with these bright, nutty notes. Overall, we have an egg yolk ravioli with miso-whipped tofu, a scallion-cilantro oil, tomato-ginger consommé, fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes, and microcilantro.

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For the pasta dough:
2/3 cups all-purpose flour with more for rolling
2 eggs
a pinch of salt
1 egg white

Combine together flour, salt, and the whole eggs to form a dough. Roll out to the thinnest setting on your pasta roller, dusting with flour between rollings to prevent the dough from sticking to itself. Cut the dough into two sheets. On one, pipe a 3-inch ring of filling onto the dough, and place an egg yolk inside of the ring. Brush the dough around the filling with egg white and seal with the other sheet of dough, pressing to release as much air as possible. Cut out 4-inch rings from the dough. Poach these in boiling hot salt water for 2 minutes.

For the filling:
3 egg yolks
8 oz firm tofu
3 tablespoons miso paste
a pinch of salt

Puree the tofu, miso paste, and salt together until creamy and smooth. Transfer to a piping bag.

For the scallion oil:
Green portions from 3 scallions, reserve the white portions for the consommé
5 sprigs of fresh cilantro, stems removed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt

Blanch and shock the scallions and cilantro. Puree in a blender with the olive oil. Pass through a sieve. Season with salt to finish.

For the tomato consommé:
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
diced up white portions from 3 scallions
2 cups water
a pinch of salt
1 egg white
oil

Saute the scallions and garlic with oil, and season with salt. Toss in the tomatoes and tomato paste and deglaze with water. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids. Whisk an egg white up and throw into the liquid. Bring back up to a simmer, allowing the egg white to cook and float up to the surface. Pass through a sieve lined with a cheese cloth, squeezing to release the liquid.

To garnish:
Heirloom cherry tomatoes
Microcilantro

Toss the cherry tomatoes into the herb oil. Place the raviolo on the bottom. Garnish with the tomatoes and microcilantro. Pour the consommé table side.

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