Tortang Talong is one of my favorite FIlipino dishes ever, so naturally it’s one of the ones I desperately wanted to learn to make. When I moved back home after college and started doing most of the cooking, I asked my dad to teach it to me. His mom, my Lola, used to make it for us when we were kids because she knew it was one of my dad’s favorites too. That night he taught me the recipe and the technique to make it.
Talong means eggplant in Tagalog. Torta is a Filipino fritter made with ground meat. Thus, tortang talong is basically a fried eggplant omelette. But I like to think of it more like a pork stuffed eggplant. Either way, it’s a fried dish made of ground pork, roasted eggplant, and lots of eggs. The meat of this dish is the delicious meaty filling–a mixture of pork, garlic and onions, seasoned with soy sauce and lemon. The eggplant gives it a nice roasted taste to balance out the other flavors, and the eggs help bind everything together.
Now I’ve raved about sweets before. I’ve been pretty open about how I’m a sweet-tooth girl all the way. But this dish is not sweet in the least. It’s pretty much salty fried goodness all the way. Also, if it isn’t clear by now, tortang talong is not the healthiest.
Some other recipes make tortang talong without the meat mixture. That’s the more traditional tortang talong. The variation with meat that I love to cook and eat is tortang talong with giniling (ground pork). For a video of the version without pork, click here. Warning: the video is in tagalog, which I really enjoyed. But even if you don’t know tagalog you can still see the steps.
I will say that the only downside to making this dish is actually making it. The prep is extremely easy and quick. The problem is cooking this dish requires you to be very hands-on the whole time. If you’re looking for a night of leisurely cooking, this is not your go-to. It also involves a certain technique. Because the eggplants are stuffed with the meat mixture, it can be tricky to flip them over. Sometimes it involves two spatulas and usually a lot of patience. I have seen other recipes that soak the eggplants in the meat and egg mixture all at once, but I like to construct mine one-by-one because that’s how my daddy taught me. Do what makes your life easier/what works best for you!
It took me a few times to actually get this right. Even now I still struggle with it. But I have a few tips for you! First, use a frying pan and not a deep fryer. That way you can keep the shape of the eggplant. You also don’t get as much oil in a frying pan. Second, use flat and wide spatulas when flipping. I discovered that it’s much easier to flip when you have most of the eggplant flipping at once, which is why I sometimes use two spatulas. My last tip is to use the eggs as a binder. I will flip my tortang talongs three times: the first side fries, the second side I add extra beaten egg to the cracks so that it binds on the other side, and then I flip again briefly to cook off any uncooked egg I added.
You also want to use a relatively small frying pan, one that can be covered by a standard dinner plate. In my house we use the excess egg and meat mixture to make torta. After frying one side use the plate to cover the pan, flip, and slide the torta back onto the plate to finish frying. Just another trick/technique from my dad! Once you’re done frying, all you have left to do is eat! We drizzle a little patis (fish sauce) over ours and eat it with rice. No surprise there! No matter how tiring it can be to cook this dish, it’s always worth it. So I dare you to try it!
How are your flipping skills? Let me know how it goes for you!
Tortang Talong: Filipino Stuffed Eggplant
- 6 long Chinese eggplants
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 lb ground pork
- salt + pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 6-8 large eggs beaten
- canola oil enough to fry
- patis (fish sauce) to taste
Broil the eggplants on high until soft and slightly wilted, about 5-10 minutes. Set aside and let cool. Peel the skins off of the eggplants. Set aside.
In a frying pan, saute the garlic and onions until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the ground pork and fry and until brown, about 10 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Take off the heat and let cool for 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat 6 eggs. Pour the meat mixture into the eggs and set aside.
Place the peeled eggplant on a plate. Using a fork, flatten the eggplant, leaving a small edge all the way around and creating a little pocket. Spoon the egg and meat mixture into the pocket.
Heat canola oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. Hold the eggplant by the top stem and slide it off of the plate and onto the frying pan. Pour in excess egg on top. Use a spatula to keep the shape of the eggplant pocket. Fry until cooked through and formed on one side, about 5 minutes.
Using a flat spatula carefully flip the whole eggplant over and fry the other side. Cook through and let the egg form, another 5-7 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat process until all your eggplants are cooked.
Pour in the leftover egg and meat mixture to make a torta. Flip using a plate. (optional)
Drizzle the top with fish sauce. Serve with rice!