Pan-Seared Tomatoes Stuffed With Pork
Vietnam was a French colony for about 100 years. During that time, French and Vietnamese cuisine blended, resulting in some fabulous dishes.
- 1 slice white bread
- 4 slightly underripe tomatoes, each about 3 inches in diameter
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp canola or other neutral oil
- (Alternatively, you can also use the uncooked meat mixture from the Vietnamese Meatballs recipe.)
Trim off the crust from the bread, put the bread in a small bowl, and cover with water. While the bread softens, prepare the tomatoes for stuffing. Halve each tomato crosswise. Seed the tomato halves, then use a teaspoon to remove the meaty insides to create a tomato cup. Do your best not to carve out too much, but if you happen to make a small hole, no worries. It still tastes great.
To make the stuffing, drain the bread and squeeze firmly to extract excess liquid. Shred the bread with your fingers. In a bowl, combine the bread, pork, onion, garlic, fish sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a fork and then divide into 8 roughly equal portions. Blot the insides of each tomato cup with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Stuff each tomato cup, pressing gently to ensure that the stuffing reaches all the crevices. Mound the stuffing a bit, if necessary.
In a deep, 12” skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Place each tomato cup, skin side down, in the skillet. Cover with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil and cook for 5 minutes to brown the tomatoes and begin cooking the filling.
Uncover the skillet and be ready for a little drama. Using tongs or two spatulas, carefully turn each cup over, stuffing side down. (There will be a dark brown or even black circle on the bottom of the tomato. It’s okay if the skin breaks.) Lower the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes; use a splatter guard if needed. After 5 minutes, check the stuffing side to see if it is browning too quickly, reducing the heat if necessary. You want a gentle sizzle. When the tomatoes show signs of collapse and there is some wrinkling in the skin, they are done, or nearly so. (The meat will feel firm.)
Use a spatula to transfer the cups to a platter, placing them stuffing –side up. The diners may use their knives to break each cup into smaller manageable pieces for easy eating. Serve with hot rice.