Aug 5

Julia Child Goes to Japan: Tomates à la Japonaise

in Appetizers, French, Fruits & Vegetables, Japanese, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Side Dish

In the Introduction to the Anniversary Edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child wrote, “According to me, if you are thoroughly skilled in French techniques, because the repertoire is so vast, you have the background for almost any type of cuisine. In other words, at the risk of creating mayhem in some circles, I think you are better as an Italian, Mexican, or even Chinese cook when you have a solid French foundation.”
You might recall that for my big “24, 24, 24” Julia Child meal at the end of July, one of the dishes I made was Tomates à la Provençale (tomatoes stuffed with bread crumbs, herbs, and garlic). These stuffed tomatoes were a huge hit. I’ve made them twice since that meal–once, as dictated by Julia, and once with a Japanese twist. I decided to swap out panko Bread Crumbs for the bread crumbs, shiso leaf for the parsley, and toasted sesame oil for the drizzle of olive oil at the end.
I’m a huge fan of Japanese panko bread crumbs–a variety of bread crumbs that is coarser, crispier, and airier than the traditional bread crumbs we use here in the US. When a recipe calls from bread crumbs, I almost always substitute panko, as I love the texture that they give a dish.
Shiso leaf is a fabulous Japanese herb that is part of the mint/basil family. There are 2 varieties–green (aoshiso) and red (akashiso). Both have beautiful leaves that are spade shaped with jagged sawtooth edges. Green shiso is used in a variety of Japanese dishes, such as salads, sushi, and sashimi. Red shiso is more likely to be pickled than to be served fresh. I have a pot of green shiso growing in my backyard (one of the easiest things on the planet to grow), and highly recommend it as an addition to your herb garden (you can order seeds from the Kitazawa Seed Co.).
The toasted sesame oil ties everything together nicely, adding a bit of nuttiness that I love without overpowering the other flavors.
The tomatoes were juicy and flavorful, and I loved the subtle Japanese flavors that came through.
The wonderful thing about these tomatoes (whether done the Julia Child way or the Japanese twist way) is that they are so good that you just want to keep eating another half and are disappointed to see the last bite go. What a wonderful way to eat your veggies!

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Tomates à la Japonaise (Tomatoes Stuffed with Panko, Herbs, and Garlic)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child
6 servings

6 firm, ripe, red medium tomatoes
Salt and Pepper

3 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbsp. minced green onions
1 Tbsp. minced fresh shiso leaf (or you can use all basil instead)
3 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

Toasted sesame oil, to sprinkle on top of stuffed tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Remove the stems and wash the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Gently squeeze out the juice and seeds. Sprinkle the halves lightly with salt and pepper.
3. Blend remaining ingredients (from garlic on, except for sesame oil) in a mixing bowl. Fill each tomato half with a spoonful or two of the mixture. Sprinkle with a few drops of toasted sesame oil. Arrange the tomatoes in a shallow, oiled roasting pan (just large enough to hold the tomatoes easily in one layer)–do not crowd them.
4. Shortly before you are ready to serve, place them in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender but hold their shape, and the panko bread crumb filling has browned lightly.

Coming Friday: Celebrating Julie & Julia with a tart.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta August 5, 2009 at 8:58 am

I adore stuffed tomatoes and I always wish I would be more adventurous with Asian cooking styles and methods. Thanks for sharing and I will be tackling this in the future.


Damaris August 5, 2009 at 10:07 am

yum, this looks super good and easy to make. I might even have all the right ingredients, score!


Darina August 5, 2009 at 11:02 am

I loved Julia's stuffed tomatoes when I tried making them. These seem fantastic too. I adore panko and usually use it in place of other types of bread crumbs. Great recipe–very imaginative, R.


Chow and Chatter August 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

cute little tomatoes lovely


Jenn August 5, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I love stuffed tomatoes. I've made something similar using canned tuna.

Looks really lovely.


[email protected] August 5, 2009 at 1:37 pm

My mom used to make stuffed tomatoes quite often. I haven't made them in years; I'll have to try this recipe! :)


K and S August 5, 2009 at 5:49 pm

sounds delicious!


kirsty_girl August 5, 2009 at 6:52 pm

This looks fabulous. This will definitely be on the menu sometime in the next week. Will also have to pick up some shiso seeds.


comfycook August 9, 2009 at 9:35 pm

A simple tomato becomes a work of art that you can eat. Pretty good, I would say.


LollyChops August 13, 2009 at 10:42 am

I have a box of Panko thanks to another one of your recipes… and this being tomato season it seems like the perfect time to use them!


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