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Feeling fruity

Simple dishes that taste as good as they look celebrate the humble tomato

 

Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee

 

If I had to choose one fruit I couldn't do without, it would be the tomato. For some dishes, canned tomatoes are fine, but for others, only fresh will do. These dishes highlight the sweetness and flavour of really good tomatoes.

 

Tomato salad with soy and onion dressing (pictured)
For this dish, try to use as colourful a selection of tomatoes as possible. The so-called heirloom varieties are in season now and available at upmarket shops and some wet-market vendors, and when they're good, they're very good (when they're bad, though, they're watery and insipid). The rest of the year, this salad is delicious with the small, oval tomatoes sold by fruit vendors.

I often make a double batch of this dressing and store the leftovers in a jar in the fridge. It takes only a few minutes to wash and slice some tomatoes, mix them with the dressing and add the sesame seeds and garnishes.

 

50 grams chopped onion

10 grams granulated sugar

50ml rice vinegar

25ml Japanese soy sauce

75ml neutral-tasting cooking oil

¼ tsp sesame oil

750 grams ripe, sweet tomatoes, preferably a mix of colours, sizes and shapes

Toasted sesame seeds

Flavourful leaves and salad greens, such as green or purple shiso and mizuna

 

Put the onion in the bowl of a food processor and add the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Process to a smooth purée. Pour the cooking oil and sesame oil into a container with a pouring spout. With the food processor motor running, add the oils in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Scrape the mixture into a bowl or jar.

Rinse the tomatoes and dry them with a clean dish towel. With small, bite-sized tomatoes, cut them in half. For larger tomatoes, cut some in wedges and others into slices about 6mm thick. Put all the tomatoes in a mixing bowl and drizzle with some of the dressing. Use your hands to gently combine the ingredients. Arrange the tomatoes on a plate and add the leaves and greens. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and serve, with more dressing on the side.

 

Two-colour chilled tomato soup with olive oil croutons
You need to use ripe, sweet tomatoes for this dish. The most dependable ones, which have the advantages of being inexpensive and available year-round, are the small oval-shaped tomatoes sold in wet markets.

 

For the red tomato soup:

30ml olive oil

2 medium-sized shallots, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

500 grams small red tomatoes, halved

1 red bird's-eye chilli, or more to taste

Chilli powder, to taste

About 50ml unsalted chicken broth, preferably home-made

Fine-grained sea salt

 

For the yellow tomato soup:

30ml olive oil

2 medium-sized shallots, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

500 grams small yellow tomatoes, halved

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

About 50ml unsalted chicken broth, preferably home-made

Freshly squeezed lime juice

 

To garnish:

Extra-virgin olive oil

Chives (don't use Chinese chives)

1 slice of sandwich bread

About 60ml olive oil, or more as needed

 

Cut the bird's-eye chilli in half lengthwise and scrape out and discard the seeds and membranes. Mince the chilli. Toast the cumin seeds in a small, unoiled skillet until fragrant. Cool the seeds then grind them in a spice grinder or crush them in a mortar.

Make the red tomato soup. Heat the oil in a pan, add the shallot and garlic and cook over a low flame until soft. Add the tomatoes, chilli and a sprinkling of chilli powder, then season with salt. Cook until the tomatoes are soft, then add the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, then remove from the flame. Pour the ingredients into a food processor and purée until smooth, adding more chicken broth if it's too thick. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cold. Wash the food processor.

Make the yellow tomato soup. Heat the oil in a pan, add the shallot and garlic and cook over a low flame until soft. Add the tomatoes and cumin, season lightly with salt and cook until the tomatoes are soft. Add the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, then remove from the flame. Purée in the food processor, adding more chicken broth if it's too thick. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cold.

Remove and discard the crust from the slice of bread. Cut the bread into 8mm cubes. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Add more oil if needed. Heat a skillet over a medium flame and toast the bread cubes until they're dry, crisp and lightly coloured. Drain on paper towels.

When it's time to serve the soups, add some fresh lime juice to taste to the yellow soup. Taste both soups and add more salt, if needed. Pour the soups into separate containers with pouring spouts. Holding a container in each hand, pour the soups simultaneously into individual shallow bowls, so they stay separate. Use sharp kitchen scissors to cut the chives into 5mm lengths. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the soup, then add the croutons and chives before serving.

 

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