My mom was and still is a very resourceful woman. We lived in the Philippines before coming here and back then, we didn’t have much. The running joke was that Mom can make a dinner out of two chicken legs that can feed 4 people. Over two meals. That’s a slight exaggeration but I do distinctly recall being told on more than one occasion that it was rude to reach across the table in an attempt to grab the bigger piece of chicken before my Dad got to it. I was 7 at the time. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that.
Tortang talong or eggplant omelet is a meal that’s hearty, healthy and inexpensive, so my mom made this often. Chinese or Filipino eggplant (the skinny variety) and eggs are all you need; ground meat is optional. You can’t use the regular fat eggplant for this dish and you’ll see why in a minute.
- Char the eggplant on all sides by grilling until its skin turns black. Peel the skin off when the eggplant is cool enough to handle.
2. Use your fork to flatten the eggplant to a wide, oval shape. This helps increase the surface area to house your ground meat. If you had used the obese by comparison eggplant, your tortang talong would be the size of manholes.
3. Dip the now flattened eggplant into your egg batter, making sure to coat both sides. Coat the ground meat with the egg batter as well. This makes the meat moist, sticky and allows it to adhere to the eggplant which is critical during the flipping phase.
One bit of cautionary tale on the flipping of the tortang talong: it took me multiple tries and 24 eggplant, to flip it just right so that the ground meat filling doesn’t collapse into a shapeless mess like this.
The best way is to hold the eggplant by its stem and flip vertically from top to bottom and not side to side. This is the best YouTube tutorial I’ve found on how to accomplish this. Girlfriend’s voice is annoyingly high pitched and painfully nasal but skip to 4:06 and you’re all good. It’s also all in Tagalog.
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 c salsa
- 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 4 eggplants
- 4 large eggs
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- vegetable oil
- Grill eggplant until skin turns black; peel off the charred skin. Keep the crown and stem. Flatten the flesh and set aside.
- Saute garlic and onion until tender about 5 minutes. Mix in ground pork and brown until cooked. *Combine salsa with cooked ground pork and heat through, another 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.
- Remove from pan, transfer to a bowl and cool.
- Once the mixture has cooled down, add the beaten egg and mix well.
- Dip flattened eggplant in beaten egg and coat both sides. Cook the eggplant omelet in a well oiled, heated pan.
- Spoon 3-4 tbsp of ground pork and egg mixture spread it all over top of eggplant.
- Cook for about 3 minutes until eggplant can be easily lifted and without sticking on the pan.
- Carefully flip to other side by holding the stem on one hand and a spatula on the other and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
*Salsa is a twist on the traditional tortang talong. It adds flavor, depth and an unexpected yet welcome kick to your tortang talong. You can use any jarred kind, my favorite is Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Chipotle Salsa.