I first made these sweet and sour tomatoes in April of 2011, right after finishing a huge chunk of my manuscript for my cookbook. In search of a light and easy side dish, I tried out this great recipe for a sweet and tangy tomato salad. A year and a half later, it's still a warm-weather standby.
Well, to begin with, thank you, dear readers, for being very patient with me on this blog. I really can't believe it's been over three weeks since I've last posted. Or the fact that it's almost April. Or that I didn't even take the subway or go into Manhattan for two weeks, which, as a New Yorker, seems very strange.
What I did do was spend an sizeable portion of the month in my apartment, working on the manuscript for my cookbook for an upcoming deadline. As luck would have it, I also caught the flu from goodness knows where. It was a pretty bad one, which even DayQuil and juice and attempts at R&R couldn't do much to alleviate. So that also put a damper on any blogging plans or extra cooking.
But enough with the excuses. The good news that I'm turning in a hefty chunk of the book this week...yay for milestones! There's still some last minute editing to be done, and much more recipe-testing and writing in the coming months. But I'm considering baking a cake once I email this baby off, just because. Don't be surprised if you start seeing recipes for more desserts on this blog in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, I've been perusing my cookbooks for ideas for easy side dishes to get me in the mood for warmer weather. Ideally, I could also snack on them when recipe-testing stir-fries, which I have been doing a lot of lately. Yesterday, while looking through Kylie Kwong's Simple Chinese Cooking, I hit jackpot on one of the last few pages. It was a recipe for sweet and sour tomatoes, an incredibly easy salad-like side dish that also seemed chock-full of flavor. The ingredients? Tomatoes, onions, vinegar, sugar, salt, fish sauce. That's it. As far as I can tell, fish sauce is a fine ingredient that doesn't get used enough in salads outside Thai and Vietnamese cuisines.
I made a few big changes to the book's recipe, such as significantly reducing the amount of liquid, which seemed overwhelming for the number of tomatoes. I also substituted shallots for onions because of the slightly sweeter natural flavor, and used cider vinegar instead of malt vinegar for a fruitier flavor to the sauce. There was no mint in the original recipe, but it just seemed to fit. And wow, these tomatoes turned out so well, with such a great mellow balance of sweet and sour flavors, that wedge by wedge, they slowly disappeared before my chicken stir-fry was done.
I can't even wait to try it with the candy-like heirloom tomatoes that show up everywhere late summer. It'll be like an appetizer and dessert in one, and a perfect snack if I happen to be holed up in the apartment again, cooking and typing away.
Sweet and Sour Tomatoes
Serves 3 or 4 as an appetizer or side dish, or 1 tomato enthusiast as an afternoon snack
- 1 shallot, very thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- In a small bowl, toss the sliced shallots with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and a pinch of the salt. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Slice the tomatoes into wedges, removing the hard cores.
- In another small bowl, mix together the cider vingar and fish sauce with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and the remaining salt. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the cider vinegar mixture and wilted shallots. Sprinkle the chopped mint on top and serve.
Adapted from Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong.