Tomato Beef – Recipe

tomato beef

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The first time I read this recipe I could not imagine that it would taste good. But I thought that there was no harm in trying it once; if we hated it I never had to make it again and if we liked it then we had a good dinner. What I didn’t realize is that this recipe for tomato beef would become a favorite and one that I would make over and over again.

The original recipe calls for fresh tomatoes but I have learned through experience that canned work just as well. I have made it both ways and we can make no discernible difference in the end result. The recipe is from a cookbook entitled (affiliate link) The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young. I’ve made slight changes to it but nothing overwhelming.


tomato beef

Tomato Beef

  • 8oz flank steak well trimmed
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp rice cooking wine – if I don’t have this I use sherry
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 5 tomatoes (about two pounds) or two 14.5oz cans
  • 1 tsp plus 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 6 slices ginger
  • 3 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 scallions cut into 2 inch sections – I hate scallions so I never use ’em

Cooked rice

I love flank steak. It’s such a useful cut of meat and it’s not expensive. Plus it’s so flavorful a little bit goes a long way. 

  • Cut the flank steak in half and then into strips.

marinate steak

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  • Place the pieces of beef in a bowl and sprinkle with the baking soda.
  • Mix together the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and 1/4 tsp of sugar with the cornstarch.  Add this to the meat in the bowl and mix well.
  • Set aside to marinate.
  • If using fresh tomatoes skin them* by adding them to a pot of boiling water until the skin just breaks. Remove them with a slotted spoon into a sink full of ice water. When cool remove the cores and skins and cut into 1/2″ thick wedges.
  • If using canned – open the cans.

*I have been lazy and not skinned the fresh tomatoes and it has come out just fine. As long as you are OK with tomato skin in your meal feel free to skip this step.

I have also used my home canned tomatoes in this dish. It works great with any of the above. It’s also good with tomatoes that aren’t ripe, with tomatoes that are over ripe – it’s a very useful recipe!

cook ginger

  • Heat a wok or large fry pan over high heat until well, hot.
  • Add 1 TBS vegetable oil and swirl around the wok.
  • Add the slices of ginger. Swirl them around in the oil**

**You might be tempted to skip this step.
I was.
I did.
It really does add a necessary flavor to the dish.

cook meat

  • Remove the ginger slices and add the beef to the hot wok.
  • It takes patience. You need to let them develop a nice sear on one side. It takes at least a minute. With experience with the recipe you will learn by smell when the time is right to stir and then remove the beef. You don’t want it cooked through because you will be adding it back in. It should look like this:

cooked meat

  • When the beef is browned, yet still rare remove it from the wok and set it aside. There should be nice browned bits on the bottom of the wok. Mmmm, lots of flavor in those bits.
  • Add the tomatoes and the remaining 1 tsp of sugar and let them cook until you see bubbles around the sides.
  • Add the water and the oyster sauce. I usually have it ready to go all mixed together. Give the mixture in the wok a stir and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add in the beef and let it cook until just heated through.
  • This way the beef continues to cook but is not so well done as to be shoe leather.

Serve it over a bowl of nice, hot rice. If you like scallions this is where you would add them – just sprinkle them on top for color and crunch. 

How Was the Tomato Beef?

Awesome! I wish I could express just how good this recipe is. It’s so simple yet so delicious. It’s is one of the few beef recipes I still make and still make regularly as we have really limited how much red meat we eat any more. It’s that good. 

I truly mean it when I note that it does not matter if you use fresh or canned tomatoes. There really is no taste difference in the final dish. This is what makes this a perfect winter dinner. Serve it with a salad and you are good to go.


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