Ensaladang talong

Ensaladang talong is Tagalog for eggplant salad. It is a simple combination of three main ingredients: peeled grilled (or boiled) eggplant, chopped tomatoes, and chopped onions. Calamansi juice, sugar, sili (chili peppers), salt, patis, and vinegar are at your disposal to further carry your tongue to an enchanted island floating on sweet and/or sour flavors, with a hint of charred decadence.

First, talong is hand-picked from your neighbor’s garden, or chosen from a selection of plump eggplants at the palengke (Tagalog) or merkado (Bisaya).

It is then thrown to a flame, either on a gas stove, a grill, or in the abohan (Bisaya for kitchen utilizing open fire for cooking). If you are afraid of fire, you can boil the eggplant instead.

Once cooked and/or charred, the skin is peeled to reveal the soft, talongness inside. Don’t worry, the eggplant is already dead, but alive with flavor.

Lastly, tomatoes and onions are sliced and diced while the eggplant is mashed. Others prefer their ensaladang talong mixed rigorously with the other ingredients to make a soft, flavorful salad delight. And others enjoy it without removing the stem, presenting the eggplant in its full macerated glory.

Typically enjoyed with fried or grilled food from the provinces to the big city, ensaladang talong needs to make a comeback like Backstreet Boys singing the chorus for an Andrew E song. But it doesn’t really need a comeback does it. It’s always been here. #weneverleft

A wide variety of recipes can be found online, from no-frills recipes enjoyed at your Tita Beng’s house, to ensaladang talong with coconut vinaigrette, beachside in Laiya, Batangas. Both sound so very good right now.

Recipes

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Ensaladang talong art print on Society6.

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