For my friend E(L)'s bridal shower gift, I promised her a cooking lesson. We shopped her local farmers' market and grocery store and assembled a handful of dishes that she could make with the overlapping ingredients. One of her and her husband's favorite dishes that afternoon were these Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes) so I figured this old post deserved an update with some better photos.
Original post, with a bit of intermixing of old and new photos, below.
Can you see where I stuffed them?
Or do you like this presentation better?
The entries for my Weekend Wokking event have been so stellar that I had to step up my game. And yet other bloggers' creations still keep trouncing mine. We're celebrating the tomato this month, as chosen by last month's hosts Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple. I looooove tomatoes. I eat them like apples. Well, they are love apples! Come play! Click on the link for the rules and all that jazz.
The ca chua nhoi thit that I saw in The Best of Nicole Routhier were just so pretty that I knew this recipe would best showcase tomatoes for this month's challenge. But as I don't really follow recipes, this is my own creation. And if I must say, I think they turned out great. In her version, she lopped off the tops and stuffed them like in the third photo. I decided to keep the stems and stuff them from the bottom to see if they looked prettier that way. Maybe another method is to slice off the tops like a lid? Except they wouldn't be in one piece when it comes to pan-frying them. Hmm...
Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes)
Inspired by The Best of Nicole Routhier
For six stuffed tomatoes, you'll need:
1/4 lb. ground pork
About 1 dozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 small handful, about 1/3 cup dried, bean thread vermicelli, soaked and cut up
1 small handful, about 1/3 cup dried, Nam Meo (Tree/Wood Ear Fungus/Mushroom), soaked and cut up
4 green onions, sliced
1 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
For the sauce, you'll need:
Leftover tomato bottoms and insides
1 tblsp of your choice of Chinese Black Bean, Hoisin, and Oyster Sauces and Indonesian Kecap Manis
Optional: 1 tsp of chili paste
Of course, you'll need to choose some very pretty tomatoes.
Soak a small handful, about 1/3 cup, each dried bean thread vermicelli and tree ear fungus in hot water to soften.
Peel and devein about 1 dozen shrimp.
Slice about 4 scallions. Puree the shrimp with the green onions in a food processor until finely minced. Dump into a bowl.
When the bean thread vermicelli and tree ear fungus have sufficiently softened, drain them, and cut them into 1- or 2-inch pieces. Add them to the bowl too.
Add 1/4 lb ground pork.
Add 1 tsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.
Mix thoroughly and set aside.
I decided to try stuffing my tomatoes in two methods. You can slice off the tops and hollow them out. Or slice off the bottoms, keeping the stems for presentation. I used a serrated grapefruit spoon for ease. Reserve the tomato insides to make the sauce. Also dice the leftover pieces of tomato and add that to the sauce mixture as well.
Stuff the tomatoes. If you have leftover filling, you can roll them into meatballs and cook them too. Or wrap them up in rice paper and make Cha Gio/Nem Ran (Vietnamese Spring/Egg Rolls). Steam the tomatoes for about 10 minutes in a shallow bowl so that you can save the resulting meaty juices that will be released.
The newer photos were made with ground turkey, vermicelli noodles, and chopped onions. Either filling works fine for this recipe.
Meanwhile, add the diced leftover tomato slices from cutting the bottoms out and the tomato insides to a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water and 1 tblsp your choice of black bean, oyster, hoisin, or kecap manis sauces, along with 1 tsp chili paste and let the mixture simmer on medium heat while the tomatoes are being steamed. The mixture should start thickening.
When the tomatoes are done, drizzle a bit of oil into a pan and pan-fry the tomatoes until the skins and meaty bottoms are golden and slightly charred.
While they're frying, drain the meaty juices from the bowl they were steamed in into the tomato sauce mixture and let it continue simmering.
The other side of the tomatoes being pan-fried.
Remove the tomatoes onto a plate and drizzle the sauce over the top.
Serve with rice.
Some of my tomato recipes in case you'd like to participate in Weekend Wokking and are looking for a recipe:
Angel Hair Pasta with Balsamic Chicken, Bacon, and Diced Tomatoes
Baked Goat Cheese with Pesto and Tomato Sauce
Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef)
Bo Xao voi Khoai Tay Chien (Vietnamese Beef Stir-fry with French Fries)
Bruschetta al Pomodoro (Italian Tomato Bruschetta)
Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup)
Canh Chua Tom (Vietnamese Sour Shrimp Soup)
Cajun Vietnamese Shrimp Boil
Cream of Tomato Soup
Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Rice with Hot Dogs, Eggs, and Ketchup
Heirloom Tomato Salad
Iceberg Wedge Salad with Bleu/Blue Cheese Dressing
Insalata Caprese (Italian Capri Salad - Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella)
Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmesan)
Okra and Tomatoes
Penne with "Italian Sausage" with Fennel
Polla alla Parmigiana (Chicken Parmesan)
Purple Aloo Gobi (Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower)
Ravioli with Basil, Squash Blossoms, and Ricotta
Sinh To Ca Chua (Vietnamese Tomato Shake)
Squash Blossom and Prosciutto Pizza
See? There are so many recipes you can make with tomatoes.
I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks to celebrate the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient. This month's secret ingredient is the TOMATO. The host this month is Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok. Check her blog for the tomato round-up with 11 tomato recipes. If you'd like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month.
1 year ago today, one of my favorite Korean barbecue restaurants, Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown).