RECIPE: Asian eggplant stars in Filipino omelet

This version of Eggplant Omelet (Tortang Talong) is shown with diced yellow tomato.
C. W. Cameron for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Combined ShapeCaption
This version of Eggplant Omelet (Tortang Talong) is shown with diced yellow tomato. C. W. Cameron for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I grew up with two types of eggplants: big, almost black Italian eggplants, and tiny, almost black dried eggplants. My mother’s family came from Syria, and her two preparations were recipes from her mother. The fresh eggplants were baked until they collapsed and the custard-soft interior was pureed with tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt to make what we just referred to as “eggplant dip.” The tiny dried eggplants were stuffed with a mixture of regular long-grain rice with minced lamb or beef and braised.

Fast-forward a few decades and witness the rise of Asian eggplants. Tiny green Thai eggplants, long slender Japanese eggplants in every shade of purple, white eggplant, eggplants striped in purple and white. I remember a decade ago when I began subscribing to a farm’s community supported program and these “odd” eggplants began to appear. What was I supposed to do with them?

After a year or two of treating them as another option for baba ghanoush, I finally began branching out. Mostly with stir-fries.

But this summer, I ran across a recipe for an Eggplant Omelet, a popular breakfast dish in the Philippines. Never having used “eggplant” and “omelet” in the same paragraph, let alone sentence, I had to give it a try.

Reading through a recipe for “tortang talongposted by Joe Sevier at Epicurious.com, the method started out in a familiar way: cook the eggplant until the interior is completely soft, then proceed.

I learned after a few batches that I didn’t need the two eggs in the original recipe. It turned out one was enough to produce an eggplant cutlet surrounded by softly cooked egg but with a crisp exterior. It really will remind you of an omelet. Sevier enjoys his tortang talong with a slice of melon. I added diced yellow tomato instead.

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Combined ShapeCaption
This recipe for Eggplant Omelet (Tortang Talong) requires just one egg. C. W. Cameron for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: C. W. Cameron

This recipe for Eggplant Omelet (Tortang Talong) requires just one egg.
C. W. Cameron for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: C. W. Cameron

Combined ShapeCaption
This recipe for Eggplant Omelet (Tortang Talong) requires just one egg. C. W. Cameron for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: C. W. Cameron

Credit: C. W. Cameron

Eggplant Omelet (Tortang Talong)
  • 2 Asian eggplants (5 or 6 ounces each)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Fish sauce, for serving
  • Heat the broiler or use an outdoor grill. Lay the eggplants in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil them, flipping once or twice, until they are soft and blackened on all sides, about 15 minutes. Or arrange the eggplants on the grill over medium-high heat, and turn them until they blacken on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes total.
  • Place the softened eggplants in a bowl and cover. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins. Use a fork to gently flatten the flesh.
  • Put the egg in a pie plate. Beat well and season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Dip each eggplant in the beaten egg and arrange in skillet. Repeat with second eggplant. Do not crowd the skillet.
  • When the eggplants are browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes, turn and cook until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Serve hot or at room temperature, with fish sauce. Serves 2.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 191 calories (percent of calories from fat, 74), 5 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 15 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 93 milligrams cholesterol, 111 milligrams sodium.

Adapted from a recipe at Epicurious.com.

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