As you know, not much needs to be done to a tomato when it’s perfectly ripe. Salt, pepper, maybe some olive oil. Still, it’s nice to shake things up a little—but maintain that same spirit of simplicity. An easy dish I like is thick slices of ripe tomato sprinkled with soy sauce, scallions, and pepper, maybe a little bit of grated ginger. The following recipe is an evolution of that idea: I applied butter and heat.
It’s one of those 5-minute recipes that hardly merit an actual recipe. Chopped tomatoes get a quick stir in a hot skillet, along with a little butter and a few aromatics. But it blossoms into something more than the sum of its parts. Soy sauce gives ripe tomatoes a lovely savory depth, especially with the slight caramelizing that happens in the hot pan. Fresh ginger brings a little burn. And that brief application of heat in the pan makes the tomatoes extra succulent.
They’re perfect on their own, eaten with a soup spoon, but they’d be great over steamed rice, with a six-minute boiled egg, or even simply as a condiment for fried eggs. Or as a topping for lots of different vessels: toast, grits, cold noodles, grilled fish or tofu…. Please share your ideas and experiments!
Soy-Sauce Stewed Tomatoes
Makes a little less than 2 cups
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic grated on a microplane
2 teaspoons ginger grated on a microplane
4 teaspoons soy sauce (or tamari, to make this gluten-free)*
1 pound ripe tomatoes, any variety, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Thinly sliced fresh shisho, chives, scallions, or other fresh herbs
Heat butter in a medium-skillet over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add the garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute and a half, until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking. Add the tomatoes. Cook for about a minute, until just heated through, stirring gently to not break them up. Turn up the heat, clear a space in the center of the pan, and pour soy sauce, allowing it to bubble and caramelize. Gently stir to combine, then transfer to a shallow bowl for serving. Top with black pepper and herbs. These tomatoes are best served warm, but can be re-heated the next day.
* My day-to-day soy sauce is usukuki shoyu—the Japanese “light flavor” soy sauce, which doesn’t mean low salt (it’s actually a little saltier). Different brands vary in strength and flavor, so be sure to taste and adjust as necessary.