The first dish. eggs scrambled with tomatoes.
Eggs scrambled with tomatoes is a classic Taiwanese home-cooked dish. I don’t actually remember what the first dish I ever made was - steamed rice? Brownies from a mix? - but surely this is one of the first things I learned to cook on the stove. Sometimes I burned the scallions, undercooked the tomatoes so the whole dish was too watery, stirred the scrambling eggs so enthusiastically that everything broke apart into clumps, added too much salt or too little, both cardinal sins. Sometimes the scallions were too raw or the tomatoes too mushy. We would sit down to dinner, me folding my legs under me in the window seat, and my parents would (kindly, gently) point out what I had done wrong, and how I could do it better. Sometimes, though, they would be just right.
A while back, some coworkers and I had an intense, trilingual debate over the proper way to cook scrambled eggs and tomatoes. There is no single, canonical recipe. Some people scramble the eggs first, remove them onto a plate, then cook the tomatoes and scallions separately. I don’t understand this, because then the tomatoes and eggs don’t stick together at all. Other people add ketchup, or wait until the end to add the scallions (sliced into two-inch logs) so they remain crisp and fresh. I also don’t understand this, because I don’t like raw scallions unless they are very thinly sliced. My own method has evolved over some twenty years, and now I can do it without thinking.
I use Roma tomatoes, and slice them into chunks about 3/4 inch square, two tomatoes for three eggs. I slice a couple of scallions thinly on the bias, beat the eggs with a fork (if I were being properly Chinese, I’d use chopsticks for this), and heat a little oil in a frying pan. In go the scallions, and when they start sizzling, I add the tomatoes. I let the tomatoes cook until they soften, release their juices, then cook them a little longer until the juices are almost gone. Season with salt and pepper, pour in the beaten eggs. Fold the eggs over on themselves as they set, turn golden around the edges. Once in a while, I manage to get everything to hold together into a soft frittata; usually it falls apart in irregular wedges. It doesn’t matter. It’s always delicious.