There's a tent in our house with two sleeping children snuggled happily under so many covers that you barely notice them. I just see the tips of their heads. They have big stuffed dogs on each side of them keeping them company and cramping them more in the little space they share. There are books and toys scattered about which I pick up to clear the bed. I could stay there looking at them the whole night. I complain when they are too noisy or roughhousing too much but I forget that this age doesn't really last long. They grow and they eventually move away from you.
A few hours before, they couldn't contain their happiness when they saw the tent in the playroom. We had been meaning to set it up in the garden a few days ago but the weather had not been permitting anything outdoors. It's cold and wet and the temperature just keeps on going down.
The question is, how do you keep two hyperactive children indoors without losing your calm, their calm or the neighbors' calm? Rewind. Think about how precious they look sleeping together in the tent.
These two recipes I am posting today are classic aubergine dishes from the Philippines. Tortang talong (aubergine omelette) and ensaladang talong (aubergine salad). I am putting them together in this post because the aubergines require a particular way of cooking that is typical of Asian (and perhaps North African too) cuisine. And this peculiarity entertained the kids for at least an hour. For a better reason, I wanted them to get acquainted to the other half of their heritage. Rice, eggs and ketchup are sure-fire ways to perk their interests.
You grill the aubergines straight on the fire of the stove ( as seen on the picture below) until the skin is completely charred. I, however, have this wire rack for stove top cooking, which I used to cook the aubergines. You can also cook them in the oven which should have the same results. I like the smokey flavor that the direct fire gives so I use this method.
Normally, you would encounter them looking like these, with the meat and aubergine being held together by the eggs. But when I saw the version of Jun of Jun-Blog, I was inspired to recreate my recipe. I would have followed Jun's cooking procedure but his version is cooked in the oven. This dish is considered an economical home dish that's easy to put together so I stuck with the classic way of cooking it on the stove. To omit flipping the omelette to cook the other side, I just put the cover to cook the top part too. After all, the meat and aubergine are already pre-cooked.
Let me tell you how these two dishes are eaten.
The aubergine omelette goes well with ketchup (Banana ketchup if you may! Which is typical of the Philippines.) and the staple, rice. The time of the day doesn't matter. Breakfast, lunch or dinner can always be good for tortang talong.
The aubergine salad is a side dish to grilled and fried seafood and meat, whatever kind. If you don't understand how it works, watch out, because it has a tendency to boost your appetite.
Aubergine Omelette & Salad
Serves 1 each recipe
- 1 aubergine (long purple ones)
- 50 g. ground meat (pork & beef or just pork)
- handful of frozen or fresh green peas (optional)
- 2 - 3 cherry tomatoes (or 1 medium tomato)
- 1/4 onion, chopped finely
- salt & pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 - 2 eggs, depending on the size of the aubergine
- parsley (optional)
- 1 aubergine
- cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 red onion
- salt & pepper
- parsley, chopped finely (optional)
- Wet the top part of the aubergines with water so that that they don't burn while on the fire.
- Make some skin-deep vertical incisions on the aubergines, about 4, all around the vegetable.
- If you have a wire mesh rack for grilling on top of the stove, use it to cook the aubergines. If not, you can put them directly on the fire of the stove. Grill until the skin is completely charred.
- Put them inside a plastic bag and close immediately. Let it cool without opening, about 5 - 10 minutes. This makes peeling off the skin easily.
- Take out the aubergines from the plastic bag and peel them.
- With the use of the fingers, gently open and flatten the aubergines. Set aside.
- Prepare the meat for the omelette. Saute' chopped onions in a pan with little extra virgin olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add the tomatoes. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add meat and cook for about 10 minutes. Add green peas, cooking for another 10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl. Season with salt.
- Pour them on the aubergine in a bigger bowl.
- Warn up a saucepan with oil. When it's hot, pour some of the whisked eggs on the pan. Follow it up after with the aubergine and the rest of the eggs. Push the eggs towards the aubergine to retain the shape.
- Sprinkle the cooked ground meat on the eggplant. Cover.
- Cook until the eggs have settled.
- Note: The usual way to cook the aubergines is to immerse the meat and aubergine in the whisked eggs and flip it to cook the other side. I don't flip mine because the meat will fall off. I just cover the pan to cook the top part too.
- Chop onion, tomatoes and aubergine to uniform sizes. Put them in a bowl.
- Mix vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well until salt dissolves.
- Pour mixture on the aubergine salad. Sprinkle with parsley. Mix well.