Beef Tomato Stir-fry

Here at The Woks of Life HQ (i.e. our house), our tomato plants are finally going totally bonkers, which means more tomatoes than we sometimes know what to do with! But vine ripe tomatoes definitely call for special recipes, and this classic Cantonese beef tomato stir-fry is one of my favorites! You can find this dish at restaurants in Chinatown as it is one of the staple “rice plate” dishes that Cantonese people love to have for a quick meal.

I grew up with a large backyard garden managed by my mother’s super green thumb. Aside from juicy vine-ripe tomatoes, we had loads of snow peas, string beans, spinach, squash, choy sum, bok choy, and all kinds of peppers. I shared some of the best quality time with my mom in the garden starting with tilling the garden in the spring, watering and weeding it daily, and, of course, the best part: harvesting the crops.

At the end of the summer when we were picking tomatoes on a daily basis, my mother always made this beef tomato stir fry over a plate of hot steaming rice. Back then, when we were kids, we loved the beef and the mellowed sweetness of the tomato sauce mixed with rice, and you’ll see why when you make this dish! In fact, the combo of flavors was my favorite growing up.

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

In this recipe, I start with a base sauce mixture of soy sauce and ketchup, simmer it until thick, and then round things out with some juicy tomato wedges—it really hits the spot! That being said, this beef and tomato recipe is a seriously saucy stir-fry, which I think makes it kid-friendly (it worked for me!) and clearly puts it in the comfort food category (it’s a Cantonese version of gravy!). But, best of all, it is definitely a 30-minute meal (and only because you NEED to have the rice as a base for this dish; rice can take a bit longer to cook depending on your rice cooker).

While this dish brings back memories of childhood for me, it’s just a tasty way to use up those tomatoes and, if you’re a tomato lover, satisfy those cravings! All across America, home gardens are busting out ripe tomatoes on the vine and people are eating salads, roasted tomatoes in their ratatouille pasta, and making sauces to jar. This year, make this your end-of-the-summer dish. If you don’t have tomatoes in your garden, head to your local farmer’s market and get some for this dish! Trust me, you will make this more than once.

Beef Tomato Stir-fry: Recipe Instructions

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Marinate the meat with the cornstarch, the first teaspoon of oil, and salt. Set aside for one hour. Also, combine all the ingredients for the sauce base in a separate bowl—ketchup, light soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and  white pepper. Set aside.

For more detailed information on preparing beef for stir fry just like restaurants do it, see our post on How to Prepare Beef for Stir Fry.

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to coat the wok and heat until just smoking. Spread the beef around the wok and sear for 1 minute until 80% done and remove from the wok. Set aside.

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Heat another tablespoon of oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the ginger slices, and let caramelize for 10 seconds. Turn the heat up to high, and add the minced garlic, shallot, and the white portions of the scallion. Toss for 10 seconds.

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Add the tomato wedges to the wok.

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Spread them around the wok in an even layer, and let sear for 15 seconds. Add the Shaoxing wine, and stir-fry the mixture for another 10 seconds. Now push everything to one side of the wok. On the cleared space of the wok, add the sauce base. Stir until bubbling to meld the flavors together.

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Now it’s time to add the beef and any juices in the bowl to the wok. Stir–fry everything on high heat until mixed well and sizzling (about 20 seconds). Be sure not to overcook the tomatoes or they will disintegrate into the sauce!

Toss in the remainder of the scallions and add the cornstarch slurry a little at a time until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Let the sauce cook for 15 seconds after adding the last bit of the cornstarch slurry to ensure the starch is cooked.

For more detailed information on the many ways to use cornstarch to get authentic results at home with our recipes, see our post on How to Use Cornstarch in Chinese Cooking.

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Plate and serve your beef tomato stir-fry immediately on a big bed of rice!

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

Beef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comBeef Tomato Stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.com

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