Last week, I cooked a leftover dish of adobo garlic rice but I felt we needed a hefty side vegetable dish like Ensaladang Talong – a Roasted Eggplant Salad. It was a soft blend of eggplants roasted to a nutty flavor, afterwards peeled, then mashed with onions and minced garlic.
For this Filipino Ensaladang Talong (eggplant salad) I used a recipe I found in a cookbook purchased from foodie friends and cabalen Claude Tayag and wife Mary Ann Quioc (‘cabalen’ in the Pampango dialect translates to town mate or someone from the same region). I make this often because this recipe has a unique dressing made of coconut cream, vinegar, garlic, ginger, scallions. When you boil it quickly, the ivory-colored thick creamy coconut milk glistens and has a sweet-gingery aroma that makes the salad just magical. Pour the coconut vinaigrette into the eggplant mash, then swirl it around and you’ll see what I mean.
Mom used to prepare this Ensaladang Talong often as an accompaniment to a beef pochero dish for our family Sunday suppers. The eggplants’ tangy, garlicky zesty flavors were a great contrast to the savory dishes typical in Filipino cuisine. How I loved it! And don’t even get me started on what a bowl of Ensaladang Talong did to our char-grilled barbecue meals.
So we had this again for dinner last night, to accompany the crisp roast pork entrée. For me, the best part is when I mash this up even more and mix it into boiled jasmine white rice. Eaten as a meal by itself or as a side, this eggplant salad is sheer excellence.
Ensaladang Talong - Roasted Eggplant Salad
- 2 to 3 whole Asian eggplants about 1 cup when mashed (or use 1 large aubergine) - Asian markets have the Japanese variety
- 1 whole onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced fine garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- 1/2 cup canned coconut cream
- 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons patis fish sauce
- 1/2 cup chopped divided, half for eggplants mashed, half for garnish scallions or green onions
- 1 to 2 whole salad tomatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick , to layer salad
- boiled jasmine white rice for serving
- Roast the eggplants. You can do it different ways. Open flame : roast the eggplants over an open flame until charred, for about 12-15 minutes. Or oven roast : place the eggplants in a shallow roasting pan, at 400 F degrees for 20 to 23 minutes. (Note: if oven roast, the outer skin will not have a blackened charred look, but that’s okay because you peel it off anyway.)
- When eggplants have cooled for a few minutes, peel the outer skin off the eggplant carefully. The eggplant has turned soft by now, so peel off slowly. Use a serrated knife to help scrape off the skin which has turned dark brown and wrinkled.
- In a medium bowl, mash and mix the eggplant filling with the rest of the ingredients : chopped onions, minced garlic and red peppers, scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or till ready to serve.
- In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, mix together the coconut cream, ginger, vinegar, fish sauce. Allow to boil in about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let the coconut burn. Turn off heat and remove from stove top.
- To assemble salad: arrange the tomato slices with a layer of eggplant salad in between. Place 2 to 3 tomato slices atop each other with the eggplant in between. End with the top layer of eggplant salad. Pour a few tablespoons of the coconut vinaigrette. Garnish with scallions. Serve hot or cold with an entrée and boiled jasmine white rice.
- Cook's comments: In the Philippines, we use Japanese or Asian eggplants which are slim and long, measuring about 8 - 10 inches in length, about 2 inches wide. They are sweeter in flavor and smoother in texture. In America, I buy the Japanese eggplants from Asian markets. If not convenient, I buy the large aubergines and the recipe is just as delicious.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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