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Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes – Ca Chua Nhoi Thit

Vietnamese stuffed tomatoes, or ca chua nhoi thit, is a traditional Vietnamese dish that combines fresh summer tomatoes with pork and an array of herbs and spices. The tomatoes are hollowed out and filled with a mixture of minced pork, onion, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass and chili peppers. This flavorful combination is then stuffed back into the tomato and stir-fried until cooked through.

This dish is remarkably simple to make and appeals to a wide range of palates. It is particularly fitting for the summer season, owing to the refreshing quality of the tomatoes and the satisfying protein from the meat. The blend of these flavors creates a harmonious balance that is both flavorful and healthy, making it a favorite summer dish for many.

How To Make Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes

Creating Vietnamese stuffed tomatoes is straightforward and enjoyable, even for those who are new to cooking. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate through the process:


  • 6 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 300g minced pork
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • Wood ear mushroom/black fungus (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 small chili peppers (finely chopped) (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  • Wash all the ingredients thoroughly. Ensure the tomatoes are ripe and firm, the onions and garlic are fresh, and the chili peppers are bright and crisp.
  • If you’re using wood ear mushrooms, soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes until they soften. After they have softened, rinse the mushrooms thoroughly, chop them finely, and set them aside.
  • Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides with a spoon, making sure to keep the tomato pulp for the sauce. Be careful not to pierce through the skin of the tomatoes.
  • Next, proceed to stuff the meat filling into the tomatoes. Use a spoon to gradually add the filling into each tomato until all the filling is used. Be mindful not to overstuff the tomatoes.


  • Heat a pan over medium heat, and once hot, add some oil to it. Place the stuffed tomatoes meat-side down into the pan. This will sear the meat and help it hold its shape inside the tomato.
  • Once the meat side has turned golden brown, carefully flip each tomato to sear the sides and bottom. This gives the tomatoes a nice color and enhances the overall flavor of the dish. Be careful not to break the tomatoes during this process.
  • After lightly frying, carefully remove the tomatoes from the pan and set them aside. It’s now time to make the sauce.
  • In the same pan, sauté some onions and garlic until they are fragrant. Then add the tomato pulp and cook it down, seasoning with additional spices such as salt, sugar, fish sauce, pepper, and chili peppers according to your taste.
  • Add approximately 1-1.5 cup of water to the pan and bring it to a gentle boil. Once it’s boiling, carefully add the lightly fried stuffed tomatoes back into the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan.
  • Allow the dish to simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the flavors have melded together. Make sure to check on it occasionally to prevent burning and stir gently if needed.
  • Once done, adjust the seasoning if necessary. Turn off the heat and allow the dish to rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your Vietnamese stuffed tomatoes hot, ideally with a bowl of steamed rice.

Choosing Quality Ingredients

Selecting quality ingredients is crucial to the flavor and success of your Vietnamese stuffed tomatoes dish. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Tomatoes: Choose fresh, ripe, and firm tomatoes. They should have bright, unblemished skin and feel heavy for their size. Tomatoes at their peak will have a sweet, slightly acidic aroma.
  • Minced Pork: Fresh pork should have a pinkish-red color with a little marbling. Avoid pork that is pale or excessively dark.
  • Wood ear mushroom/Black fungus: This optional ingredient adds texture and a unique flavor to the dish. These mushrooms are usually sold dried and need to be rehydrated before use. They should be firm and free of any mold or unpleasant smell. If you can’t find these at your local supermarket, they’re often readily available in Asian grocery stores or online.

Remember, fresh and high-quality ingredients will always yield the best results in your cooking.

Tips And Tricks For The Perfect Stuffed Tomatoes

  • To make this dish even healthier, try adding some additional vegetables such as mushrooms, bell peppers or carrots to the filling.
  • Overpacking the tomatoes with stuffing is a great trick to keep in mind. The minced meat will naturally shrink during cooking, and you want your stuffed tomatoes to look as hearty and plump as possible. Therefore, don’t hesitate to pile on the stuffing until it slightly overflows the tomato cups. This will ensure that your dish has plenty of substance and is visually appealing when served.
  • However, stuffing too much filler and packing it too tightly can cause the tomatoes to break. It’s important to strike a balance between a generous filling and the structural integrity of the tomato.
  • For a more appealing color in your sauce, consider adding 1-2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup or hot sauce, or a combination of both. This not only enhances the flavor but also brings a vibrant color to your dish.
  • To store the dish, allow it to cool down completely. Once cooled, transfer the stuffed tomatoes along with the sauce into airtight containers. You can store this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, you can simply reheat it in a microwave or on a stovetop, making sure it’s heated thoroughly before serving.

How Do You Serve Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes?

Vietnamese stuffed tomatoes are usually served with a side of steamed white rice and can be accompanied by other dishes such as stir-fried morning glory or sweet and sour fish. It’s also a great dish to bring to potlucks, since it’s easy to make and extremely popular. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!

This dish can also be served with pasta. If you’re pairing it with pasta, consider making a bit more sauce to adequately coat the noodles. Here’s how you can make this delicious pairing:
Serving Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes with Pasta.

Prepare your pasta according to the instructions on the packet. You can choose any type of pasta you like, but spaghetti, fettuccine, or penne would be excellent choices to pair with the hearty stuffed tomatoes.

While your pasta is cooking, set up the sauce. Follow the steps outlined in the previous recipe to create additional sauce. You might want to double the amount of tomato pulp, onions, garlic, and seasonings to ensure there’s enough sauce to mix with your pasta.


Indeed, Vietnamese stuffed tomatoes, or ‘Cà chua nhồi thịt’, is not just an appetizing and visually pleasing dish, but it is also nutritionally balanced. The inherent health benefits of tomatoes, combined with the proteins from the meat stuffing, make it a wholesome meal. Tomatoes are known for their wealth of vitamins and antioxidants, including lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits. The meat, on the other hand, provides essential proteins and amino acids required for body development and repair. Thus, this dish is not only flavorful and appealing but also a great addition to a balanced diet.

Furthermore, this dish is relatively easy to make and requires minimal preparation. With just a few ingredients and simple steps, you can quickly whip up a delicious meal for your family or guests. So the next time you’re looking for an exotic and healthy dish to prepare, give Vietnamese stuffed tomatoes a try!