Monday, July 21, 2008

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes)

Updated from the archives February 6, 2012:

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes) 14

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.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit 1

Can you see where I stuffed them?

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit 2

Or do you like this presentation better?

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit 3

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.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit 4

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.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit 5

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.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit 6

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.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit 7

The newer photos were made with ground turkey, vermicelli noodles, and chopped onions. Either filling works fine for this recipe.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes) 9

After steaming.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes) 10

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.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes) 11

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.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes) 12

The other side of the tomatoes being pan-fried.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes) 13

Remove the tomatoes onto a plate and drizzle the sauce over the top.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes) 15

Serve with rice.

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit 8


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
Cobb Salad
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
Greek Salad
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
Salsa Fresca
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).


  1. the stuffed tomatoes with stem look nicer than the Vietnamese style ones I think. I normally use beef tomatoes for this dish :D

  2. I also vote for the ones with the stems still on. Pretty.

  3. This sounds like a very tasty dish! I've never had an Asian-style stuffed tomato before. I guess I'll have to try it soon :-)

  4. Viet style tomatoes-u can do anything viet style!That looks wonderful and the ingredients looks massive! =)

  5. Looks really delicious! Am not participating this time round as I am absolutely hopeless with tomatos. I only know how to make tomato omelet.

  6. I absolutely choose the ones with the stem on. They're so cute! Your entry is already a blockbuster!
    - Ning, Heart and Hearth

  7. Fantastic recipe, WC! I haven't made stuffed tomatoes in a while and this is a great reminder. BTW, the link to Blazing Hot Wok isn't working.

  8. Oh, and someone gave me some kim chi and I immediately thought of your fried rice with kim chi. I didn't have spam so I used ham instead. Fantastic. Must do this again!

  9. Hedgehog,
    Beef tomatoes are way too big in the US. It'd be harder to cook with them.

    Eating Club,
    Hehe. There's just something about seeing tomatoes with their stems that I really like.

    The only other one I could think of are Mediterranean stuffed tomatoes with rice.

    Add fish sauce to anything and I call it Viet style. :P

    Make your tomato omelet! I bet lots of people didn't think of it.

    Thanks! I can't wait to see what you make.

    Fixed the link. Thanks for letting me know. Are you gonna post the kimchi fried rice? Are you cooking for the tomato challenge too?

  10. Heavens, WC, I scoffed the lot before I could even find the camera. There will be a next time, however, so I'll try to get the camera ready :-) Yes, will think of something for the tomato challenge!

  11. Beautiful tomatoes and delicious stuffing! Stems on, all the way. I love the idea of keeping things "whole" and intact and then finding a surprise inside.

  12. Nikki,
    Haha. OK, I'll look forward to both your recipes then.

    Eating Club (Heh. JS this time.),
    Thanks! I liked the mystery surprise from below idea too.

  13. i like the stuffing for bittermelons!

  14. t,
    It's similar stuffing, minus the green onions. But I think the green onions added a nice touch to my usual.

  15. I saw this on the round up post at Darlene's Blazing Hot Wok. This looks absolutely terrific! I've never seen anything like it, and you can bet I want this ... just as soon as my garden tomatoes turn red!

  16. Paula,
    I've been waiting and waiting for my tomatoes to ripen too. Seems like suuuuuch a long wait. They work great with tomatoes on the vine, especially if you keep the stems on so they look prettier.

  17. How do you steam tomatoes in a bowl?

  18. Hong,
    I place a flat steamer underneath the bowl. If you don't have one, you can use a couple of forks on the bottom, then the bowl on top of that so it's still above water level.

  19. Hmm, I think my Mom used to make these but with only the ground pork and black fungus. She called them ca` pha' xi'. As we do not have ovens, everything is done with 1 pan. Cook with stuffed meat side down until crisped and brown, add some sugar to the released juices on the bottom, cover until tomatos are cooked. The meat soak up the caramelized sugar concoction and pick up the tomato flavor, no sauce needed. Add chopped scallions for garnish. Grocery store tomatoes have zero taste. Romas are a bit small... argggh.


  20. Tnk2k,
    Yeah, these are best made when tomatoes are in season. These were all made on the stovetop. I just made them again to take better photographs so I'll have to update this post soon.


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