Last year, I took my then 3 year old daughter across the ocean to visit and spend time with my grandmother before she died. Despite the circumstances, it was an amazing experience for my little girl and I was thrilled that she was able to see what life in the Philippines was like, be immersed in the culture and get to know her family in San Jose, Batangas.
Little One often talks about her voyage to the Philippines and in the past year she has been requesting that I cook Filipino food. With no training in how to cook Filipino food, with the exception of having watched my late grandfather and late grandmother cook, I tried to remember as much as I could. I remember as a kid, I used to spend lots of time in the kitchen watching my grandparents cook the food they had in their country. It was magical.
My mom and her sisters are exceptional cooks, so I try to remember what ingredients they use in their recipes and how to prepare the dishes. Maybe one day I will ask for an actual lesson!
To my surprise, the other day, Little One asked me to make Tortang Talong. Torta means omelet in Tagalog and Talong means eggplant. Tortang Talong is essentially omelet with eggplant or eggplant omelet. I was kind of laughing, because I have never known a 4 year old to request Tortang Talong and rice to bring for her school lunch! Okay, maybe not a 4 year old Canadian kid (I guess 4 year olds in the Philippines eat Tortang Talong for lunch?). I’m just amused that my child will not take a sandwich to school and prefers taking leftovers and “Mommy’s cooking”.
Little One: I’d like to take a rainbow to school.
Me: What? I don’t understand. A rainbow?
LO: Yeah. For lunch. I want to take a rainbow.
Me: Oh. What would you like to take?
LO: Every colour of the rainbow. Cucumbers, red peppers, and all the healthy stuff, because vegetables are good for you and make you strong.
Okay, back to the Tortang Talong.
With no recipe (although I suppose I could have Googled one), I went on a) what I recalled from memory from the Tortang Talong my grandmother’s helper made when we were in the Philippines in May of 2012 and b) the ingredients that I had on hand.
When you live on Manitoulin Island and want to make an authentic dish from another country, you learn quickly that you need to use what you have locally and on hand. The original recipe calls for ground pork, but since we live on a beef farm, I had ground beef in my freezer.
- 2 eggplants (not large ones)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic (I like it on the garlicky side), chopped
- 4 eggs
- ½ lb of ground beef (original Tortang Talong is made with ground pork though)
- oil for cooking
- Salt and Pepper to season.
- * My Mom told me that Tortang Talong is made with tomatoes cooked into the torta, but I totally forgot to add them in. Someone else told me that they put a little "patis" (fish sauce) in their Tortang Talong. Again, I didn't add that ingredient.
- *This recipe is for 2 tortang talong, though you might want to make more because they are so good!
- Wash eggplant and then boil in pot of water until it is cooked and soft (I boiled it for 10 min). I also pricked it with a fork before cooking. I read somewhere that if you prick the eggplant with a fork, it will cook faster. Not sure if it's true or not, but it seemed to work. Alternatively, you can broil/char the eggplant. It gives a lovely flavour! I ended up just boiling instead of broiling/charring.
- While eggplant is cooking, in a pan, add a little cooking oil and sautee chopped garlic and chopped onion. Add ground beef (or pork) and cook until completely done. Let cool.
- Remove cooked eggplant from water and let cool. Once cooled, peel off the purple skin.
- With a fork, mash/flatten eggplant and "fan" (spread it out so it looks like a fan). Keep the top and stem on the eggplant.
- In a bowl, beat 2 of the 4 eggs. Make sure they are whisked or beaten well.
- Dip eggplant in meat and egg. Make sure it's coated well.
- Beat remaining eggs and add to meat mixture.
- In a hot pan, heat oil. Place coated eggplant on hot pan. Spoon meat and egg mixture onto eggplant to cover the eggplant. Cook until golden brown. Flip eggplant over to cook the other side.
I make more than 2 Tortas because Little One can eat an entire one all on her own!
Little One could not resist and didn’t wait for the rest of supper to be prepared! She dug right into the Tortang Talong and devoured an entire eggplant all to herself. Whoa!
Just got these from my Dad’s garden and the first thing Little One said was…
“YAY! MORE Tortang Talong!”
Too funny! I’ll be making some eggplant curry (like the curry I loved when I lived/worked in Japan for two years), more ratatouille, grilled zucchini, and perhaps I’ll experiment with different variations for Tortang Talong!