Ensaladang Talong is a dish that sings with vibrant colors, textures, and flavors. Imagine a smoky and charred eggplant, its skin blackened and crackling as it yields to the touch, revealing a soft and creamy interior. The eggplant is then sliced into thick rounds and arranged on a plate, each slice glistening with the bright tang of vinegar and the sparkle of diced tomatoes, onions, and fresh herbs.
As you take a bite of Ensaladang Talong, (or Ensaladang Brinjal as it is sometimes called in some parts of the Visayas region, where "brinjal" is another term for eggplant), the flavors burst into life. The creamy eggplant is complemented by the crunch of onions and the juicy sweetness of tomatoes. The tangy dressing brings a zing of acidity that sets your taste buds dancing, while the fragrant herbs infuse the dish with an earthy freshness that evokes the lush greenery of the Filipino countryside.
You can serve this alongside some Filipino sitaw, stir fried noodles (or stir fried glass noodles if you are gluten free) with seitan bulgogi. Serving it "TALONG-side" some ketoprak helps make that DEEEEElicious Indonesian tofu salad a little more veggie-forward. If you want something crunchy to have with this juicy delicious salad, you DEF need to make these crispy rice dumplings with red jujube dates. Thank me later, mommy.
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
🍴 Effortless Eats: Crafted with just twelve simple ingredients, easily found in any grocery store, this dish's preparation is straightforward, ensuring a hassle-free cooking experience.
💰Budget-Friendly AF: Prepare this economical dish with affordable and readily available ingredients, making it a wallet-friendly option without compromising on flavor.
🇵🇭Full Filipino Flavor: This Ensaladang Talong recipe provides a great introduction to Filipino cuisine and culture, mirroring the tradition of dishes like crispy sisig.
🍆 Ingredients & Susitutions
Chinese eggplant, also known as long eggplant or Asian eggplant, is a unique variety of eggplant that is slender and elongated compared to its rounder counterparts. I also use it in my Sayur Lodeh recipe, which is KILLLARGH. You can also make this recipe using ordinary black eggplant, but since it is grittier than the slender Chinese eggplants, stab it deeply all over with a fork, so that as it cooks on the open flame, the heat can more easily penetrate into the insides. It will also require almost double the amount of time to cook. Save those for making soslu patlican or Turkish shakshuka with!
Vegetarian oyster sauce
Vegetarian oyster sauce is typically made with mushroom extract, soy sauce, sugar, and other seasonings, and it has a similar flavor (just a bit sweeter) and texture to oyster sauce, making it a great option for vegans who want to enjoy the umami-rich taste of oyster sauce without using animal products. It comes in handy for everything from mee goreng, to nuoc mam. You can find it at Asian grocery stores and online. If you can’t get it, a good substitute is ½ teaspoon of marmite, mixed with ½ teaspoon tamari, and 1 teaspoon of agave nectar.
Green mango is an unripe, tangy variety of mango that is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. The green mango, which is optional in this recipe adds some nice contrasting texture as well as a refreshing tartness that balances well with the smoky flavor of the eggplant. There are a ton of things to make with green mango including Indian-style pickle, and Vietnamese rice paper salad.
Bird’s eye chilies
Bird's eye chilies, also known as Thai chilies, are a small, fiery hot pepper commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. You'll put the to use in everything from homemade tom yum paste, to Indonesian bihun goreng. They are usually green or red and measure around 1-2 inches in length. If you cant find any you can subsitute with some minced Fresno peppers or Jalapeños.
- Ensaladang Pakô - Pakô is a type of fern that is abundant in the Philippines. If you don’t live in the Philippines, a good substitute is fiddlehead ferns. You can briefly blanch them, and then use them in place of the eggplant in this recipe.
- Ensaladang Patatas - in some areas of the Philippines, especially in the Ilocos region, the dish is made with boiled potatoes instead of eggplant. Hence, it is called Ensaladang Patatas or Potato Salad.
- Ensaladang Lato - in coastal regions, such as in Bicol and Visayas, the dish is sometimes made with Lato (A.K.A. green caviar, or sea grapes), a type of seaweed. Lato has a great briney flavor, and is super-good for you.
- Ensaladang Talbos ng Kamote - this is a version of the salad made with the leaves of sweet potato. Talbos ng kamote is also used insteps and stews, and is also a good source of vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as dietary fiber and antioxidants.
📖 How to make perfect Tnsaladang Talong
You wanna see how this yummy thing gets made? It’s fast and easy, and I’m gonna show you how it should look every step of the way. Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
Poke the eggplant with a fork all over.
Heat a stove burner on medium-high for two minutes. Grill eggplants directly on the burner grate or medium flame for seven-eight minutes, turning every minute until the eggplant is tender and deflated looking, and the skin is completely charred.
Let the eggplant cool, then rub off as much of the charred skin as you can.
Cut the eggplant into pieces, and discard any tough parts.
Cut tomatoes, onions, mango (optional) and chilies.
Add the eggplant and all remaining ingredients.
Serve this smokey salad alongside other Filipino classics like Ginisang Munggo, or Ginataang Kalabasa. A side of atchara, the classic tangy papaya slaw from the Philippines? You know it's on! Tupig, budbud, or taho are compulsory for dessert!
➡️Cooking eggplant directly on an open flame is delicious, but you really need to make sure the eggplant becomes tender. Few things suck as much as undercooked eggplant. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Choose the right eggplant: Look for eggplants that are firm and shiny with smooth skin.
- Preheat the flame: Make sure the flame is set to medium-high for aq couple of minutes before placing the eggplant on it. That way the burner grates will also be hot and can help transfer heat to the eggplant. You want the flame to be hot enough to char the skin but not so hot that it burns the eggplant.
- Pierce the eggplant: Using a fork, pierce the eggplant all over, especially deeply in the thicker areas. This allows heat to more easily penetrate the eggplant, and allows steam to escape while it cooks.
- Roast the eggplant: Place the eggplant directly on the flame and cook it, turning it occasionally with tongs until the skin is charred all over and the flesh is soft and tender.
- Cool and peel: Once the eggplant is cooked, transfer it to a plate and let it cool for a few minutes. Then use a knife to peel off the charred skin, revealing the tender flesh beneath.
➡️Serve chilled: Ensaladang Talong tastes best when served chilled. Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
➡️Always check the final mixed dish for seasoning. Want it a bit spicier, saltier, or tangier? Now’s your chance to tweak it to your taste!
Ensaladang Talong can be made vegan as it is typically composed of eggplants, onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables that do not contain meat. However, some variations may include shrimp paste or bagoong (fermented fish paste) in the dressing, which are not vegetarian.
In some regions, the salad may also be served with boiled eggs or grilled meat on the side. If you are vegetarian, it's important to check with the cook or restaurant staff whether any animal products have been added to the dish.
Ensaladang Talong is a popular Filipino salad that has a long history rooted in the country's culinary traditions. The word ensalada comes from the Spanish language, which means salad, and talong is the Tagalog term for eggplant, the primary ingredient in the dish.
Eggplants were introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish colonizers during the 16th century. However, it was not until the 19th century that eggplants became a popular ingredient in Filipino cuisine, thanks to the country's rich agricultural resources.
Ensaladang Talong has its roots in the simple and rustic way of preparing vegetables in the rural areas of the Philippines. It is believed to have originated in the Ilocos region, where eggplants are abundant and readily available.
The dish is typically made by grilling the eggplants over an open flame until the skin is charred and the flesh is soft and creamy. The grilled eggplants are then peeled and sliced before being tossed with onions, tomatoes, and a dressing made of vinegar, soy sauce, and other seasonings.
Today, Ensaladang Talong is a staple in many Filipino households and is often served as a side dish or appetizer. It is a dish that embodies the simplicity and flavor of Filipino cuisine, and its popularity continues to grow both in the Philippines and around the world.
Don’t have a gas cooktop? Or worries about catching yourself on fire and burning down your whole house by mistake? Don’t dismay! Roasting eggplant is a great alternative to grilling it over an open flame, and it can be just as delicious when making Ensaladang Talong.
Here are the steps to follow:
Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
Wash the eggplants and dry them off with a towel. Using a fork, poke deep holes all around the eggplant to allow heat to more easily enter, and to prevent them from bursting in the oven.
Place the eggplants on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Drizzle some olive oil over the eggplants and rub it evenly over the surface of each eggplant.
Roast the eggplants in the preheated oven for 38-45 minutes, or until the skin is wrinkled and the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork.
Remove the eggplants from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes until they are easy to handle.
Ensaladang Talong should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. It is recommended to consume it within 3 days after preparation to ensure optimal quality and freshness. The vinegar-based dressing in the salad acts as a natural preservative, which helps to extend its shelf life. However, since this recipe includes some raw, uncooked veggies, it has the tendency to get a bit funky beyond two or three days.
✌️Other dishes that go great with ensaladang talong:
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Ensaladang Talong- (Filipino Eggplant Salad)
- 2 pounds Chinese eggplant
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- ½ cup small diced red onion
- 1 green mango diced (optional)
- ⅓ cup white vinegar
- 4 teaspoons vegan oyster sauce
- 2 Tablespoons sugar or coconut sugar
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2-3 minced Bird’s eye chilies according to taste
- Fresh cilantro leaves to garnish
- Deeply poke the eggplant all over, on all sides, with a fork.
- Make sure your stove is clean. Turn a stove burner on to medium-high heat, and allow the burner grate to heat up for two minutes.
- Grill the eggplants directly on the burner grate. If you use standard black eggplants in place of the Chinese eggplant, cook it over a medium flame instead, so that the insides cook thoroughly.
- Using a pair of tongs, turn the eggplants every minute or so until the skin is all burnt and flaky, and the flesh is soft. It should take about 7 minutes until the eggplants are tender, and a bit deflated looking.
- Transfer the eggplants to a wire rack or plate to cool for 10 minutes.
- Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, rub off the charred skin. If the skin is really hard to get off, you can also rub it off under cold running water. Don’t freak out about getting every last flake of charred skin off. Some spots may be harder to get off than it’s worth, and a little bit of the charred skin helps make the final dish smokey and delicious tasting.
- Once the eggplant has been skinned, cut it into half-inch pieces. Sometimes the meat near to the stem of the eggplant just doesn’t get tender. Discard any tough-feeling eggplant rather than including it in the salad.
- Cut the tomatoes, onions, and chilies.
- Combine the cut veggies, including the eggplant with all remaining ingredients.
- Chill the salad for at least one hour before serving, to chill it and to allow the flavors of the dressing to enter the veggies.
Tips for cooking eggplant perfectly:
- Choose firm and shiny eggplants with smooth skin.
- Preheat the medium-high flame and pierce the eggplant with a fork to allow steam to escape.
- If you use a larger eggplant than the Chinese variety, cook it over a medium flame for a few more minutes, to ensure it cooks internally.
- Cook the eggplant directly on the flame, turning occasionally until the skin is charred and the flesh is tender.
- Let the eggplant cool for a few minutes before peeling off the skin with a knife.
Make this a real pleasure to eat!
- Serve this salad chilled. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.