Tomato Beef

Use nine to ten small tomatoes or a forty-eight ounce can, stewed
or whole. Stir-fry strips of beef with about a thumb of sliced ginger,
one or two cloves of crushed garlic, a chopped onion, and a ladle full
of soy sauce. Add tomatoes, one teaspoon sugar, a little salt, and simmer
to boil down a bit to stew-like consistency. Add some diced celery
about ten minutes before serving. Spoon over top of rice and pick
out pungent chunks of ginger and hide under bowl.

From Fred Wah’s Diamond Grill



 Recipe Notes (Alexia Moyer)

If you want to make this recipe and you happen to live in Marseille, sourcing soy sauce may prove your greatest challenge. A ladle full ‒ for the bottles are tiny and dear here – is all I managed to find. I’m told there’s a great Asian grocery store in Geneva . . . Garlic and ginger, however, are plentiful. And they quite obligingly added both pungency and brightness to this dish.

For Wah, gingerroot is a “site of implicit racial qualification” (11). We are what we eat, in other words. But, as Elspeth Probyn writes, “instead of founding an ontological truth, eating and being become mutually interrogating categories” (23). The eater and the eaten are not static. For folklorist Diane Tye, ginger means something different. It is reserved for sweets and belongs with molasses. The resulting ginger cookie is a site of implicit class qualification and affirms a certain regional identity.

It remains to be seen whether you’d put ginger in tomato beef, pair it with molasses, or perhaps you have a hankering for something entirely different ‒ in which case, might I propose Ameen Merchant’s ginger-laden recipe for Madras Beef, submitted to Joan Coldwell’s Apples Under the Bed: Recollections and Recipes from B.C. Writers and Artists.



Merchant, Ameen. “Madras Beef.” Apples Under the Bed: Recollections and Recipes from B.C. Writers and Artists.   Ed. Joan Coldwell. North Saanich: Hedgerow Press, 2007. Print.

Probyn, Elspeth. Carnal Appetites: FoodSexIdentities. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.

Tye, Diane. “A Poor Man’s Meal: Molasses in Atlantic Canada,” Food, Culture and Society 11.3: 335-353. Print.

Wah, Fred. Diamond Grill. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1996. Print.


Photo Credit: Alexia Moyer

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