I came across another Filipino dish that I wanted to try recently, tortang talong, aubergine omelette. Ingredient-wise, it’s very simple but the method means it’s not something you can knock together in 5 minutes. Well, you could probably cook it in about 20 minutes!

Tortang Talong

I made the most basic of tortang talongs, with just aubergine and egg, and it was lovely in all its simplicity. Onions, tomatoes and other vegetables, all finely chopped, are also common additions. Minced pork is also commonly added, making it something you could just eat by itself with rice. If adding any of these, I would fry them separately and mix them with the egg, patting the filling onto the aubergine when frying.

Grilled and Flattened Aubergine

What other Filipino dishes would you recommend?

Tortang Talong
serves 2 as a dish in an Asian meal.

2 medium-sized long aubergines
1 large egg

Grill the aubergines over an open flame until soft but not mushy. If you have not got a gas stove, you can put them under a grill in they oven too. The skin should be black. Let cool and peel off the skins, keeping the flesh and the stem intact. With a fork, flatten the flesh so you’ve formed aubergine fans, still keeping the stems on.

In a shallow bowl, beat the egg with a little salt.

Heat a frying pan oven medium heat and when hot, add about 1 tbsp of oil. Using the stem of the aubergine as a handle, dip the flesh of the aubergine into the egg, turning to coat both sides. Lay the eggy aubergine fan into the frying pan. Repeat with the other aubergine, laying it next to the first in the pan. Pour over the rest of the egg onto the aubergines in the pan, taking care to keep them separate. Cook on each side for a few minutes, until both sides are golden brown.

Serve with rice, possibly with other Asian dishes too. I read that ketchup is commonly eaten with tortang talong but I had mine with chilli sauce.

Remember that huge trayful of eggs? We’re not finished with them yet! We had quite a number of meals of fried eggs (once with fried Spam in a sandwich) and then luxurious scrambled eggs drizzled with truffle oil, all on toast. We actually went through those eggs quite quickly due to their diminutive size – I’d gladly take another trayful but the chickens are growing and so are the sizes of their eggs. No more bargain egg trays for the rest of the year.

I came across this recipe for fried eggs and spaghetti on Mark Bittman’s blog in my initial search for egg recipes and made it one night for dinner, tweaking it by keeping the garlic and adding another breakfast classic, bacon. Why not? Bacon and eggs, go together like a horse and carriage… or something like that. It’s kind of like a carbonara but with more of an eggy chew, I reckon. Anyway, this meal comes together in about 10 minutes – once again good for late weekday nights.

Bacon and Fried Egg Spaghetti

Bacon and Fried Egg Spaghetti
serves 2.

4 rashers bacon (any kind you want), finely chopped
4 small eggs (or 3 large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
a good pinch of dried chili flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
a small handful of flat leaf parsley, minced
200-250g spaghetti

Set a pot of water to boil for the spaghetti.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add about two tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the bacon until it’s almost done to your liking and add in the garlic and chili flakes. Continue stirring as it cooks. When the garlic just starts getting a bit of colour, turn off the heat.

In a separate frying pan, heat enough olive oil to fry an egg or two. Fry the eggs one or two at a time, taking care to keep the yolk fluid – so sunny side up or over easy are both good. Add them to the bacon pan when done and continue with the rest of the eggs. Salt and pepper the mixture.

Bacon and Eggs

Salt the now boiling water and get your spaghetti cooking. When it’s done, add it to the pan with the bacon and eggs, along with the parsley. Stir the whole lot together, breaking the fried eggs up in the process, allowing the yolks to coat the spaghetti strands. Add a little of the pasta cooking water to help with the stirring and some extra virgin olive oil for extra flavour. Serve.

Check out this tin I picked up a little while ago:

Spam with Stinky French Garlic

It’s the limited edition, Spamalot themed tin of garlic Spam! The tin is an absolute riot, complete with Ye Olde English instructions on the side. Now what dish was going to showcase this baby to all its glory?

Immediately, I thought of a very simple preperation. Sliced and fried with a fried egg, all on white rice – it’s very similar to the kind of food you’d find in Hong Kong style cafes.

Spam, Egg and Rice

It looked awfully plain like this and so I sprinkled white pepper and drizzled sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) over it all (a la Mochachocolata-Rita). And it really hit the spot! The garlic wasn’t very strong but I did notice it was there.

Spam, Egg and Rice with White Pepper and Kecap Manis

Now don’t go turning your nose up at Spam – it’s not bad! I ate loads of it growing up and in our family, it was known as the rather innocent sounding luncheon meat. Usually it would turn up as part of our Sunday breakfast – crispy-edged fried slices accompanying a fried egg over easy. Sometimes we’d get Spam sandwiches as part of our packed lunch for school – again the fried slices but sandwiched between slices of white bread with a good schmear of sweet chili sauce. Sometimes I get cravings for these sandwiches!

It was only when I’d been in the UK for a few years before I got to try the infamous Spam fritter, that battered creation that fed a nation during the Second World War. I found it on the menu of a cafe in Shepherd’s Bush that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 1950’s. And I liked it! It was quite comforting, its salty meatiness pairing well with the bland mashed potatoes and boiled peas served on the side. And Spam is making a comeback now during the recession (though I’m not sure how swine flu has affected sales lately).

Anyway, Spam is great:

  • sliced, fried, and put into sandwiches.
  • in Spam musubi (though I’ve not tried it yet, but I can imagine it now!).
  • in kimbap.
  • on top of instant noodles.
  • chopped up and cooked into fried rice.
  • chopped up into omelettes.
  • in fritters.
  • sliced the other way and served like a square burger.

Right, that’s what I can think of off the top of my head – what can you add to this list?

I’m not sure what’s so Cuban about Cuban rice, or arroz a la cubana as it’s known in Spain. This dish for one is white rice topped with tomato sauce and a fried egg. Sausages seem to be a popular accompaniment and depending on the region, there’s sometimes a fried banana too. Arroz a la cubana is also popular in the Phillipines but ground beef and diced vegetables are usually sauteed with the tomato sauce and a fried plantain is a normal accompaniment.

The closest Cuban dish I seem to be able to dig up is huevos a la habanera, or Havana-style eggs, which Wikipedia describes as “fried eggs served over white rice and fried plantains” while other recipes describe as baked eggs on a sofrito. Now I can sort of see the origins of Cuban rice if we look at a combination of these two descriptions.

Arroz a la Cubana

Anyway, I was, of course, introduced to this dish by Blai, who had it at home and at school and even at some restaurants. And I felt like making it again (it had been at least a year) last week for dinner, mainly to use up some lovely chipolatas wrapped in bacon (leftover from Christmas, frozen for the new year) by having them on the side.

Instead of the usual white rice, we have garlic rice. In a pot, fry some chopped garlic gently in oil and just when it starts to colour, tip in some washed white rice; we used basmati. Add salt and a couple of bay leaves and stir to have the garlic and oil mixed thoroughly with the rice. Add enough water (the golden rule is 2 parts water to 1 part rice for cooking rice on the stove) and cover and let simmer. When the water’s mostly boiled off, turn off the heat and let the rice sit, still covered, to allow the rice to steam – this makes fluffing the rice much easier.

Our choice of tomato sauce is homemade, of course, and made with fresh tomatoes. We gently soften a chopped onion in olive oil before adding lots of chopped fresh tomatoes and cooking down the whole lot until thick. At this time of the year, a spoonful of sugar in the sauce never goes amiss. Salt and freshly ground pepper are musts. Some dried oregano is optional. If you have some leftover tomato sauce, say from when you were cooking pasta, this is the perfect way to use it up!

We left out the fried banana but it’s quite straightforward to do. Peel a banana and slice it in half lengthwise. Fry gently in oil until cooked through. And we just grilled our sausages or you could use any cooking method you like.

Finally, the crowning glory (at least to me), the fried egg. (Mine looks a bit rubbish this time since I was testing out a new itsy-bitsy frying pan I bought in Barcelona.) I believe the liquid yolk is important as it’ll flow over the rice and tomato sauce and it’s just delicious to put it plainly.

Now that all the parts have been assembled, it’s time to plate it all. I like my components relatively separate so that I can control the proportions of each bit on my spoon – I’m a little weird like that. Blai likes to mix up the whole lot so it becomes quite the amalgam of rice, sauce and egg. It’s all personal preference though so don’t take this as some kind of gospel!

After many consecutive days of eating out, I really wanted some soothing, not very oily food at home. Rice was what I wanted. Rice and…. what would fit the bill? Well, it’s only been recently that a certain Chinese dish of stir fried egg and tomato has entered my repertoire and it was exactly what we were looking for – simple, though tasty, food that goes very well with a bit of fluffy white rice. All that was needed was some blanched broccoli with oyster sauce on the side.

Now, I don’t claim to be an authority on this dish; this is just the way that I cook it!

Stir Fried Egg and Tomato

Tomato and Egg, Chinese Style
serves 2 as part of a Chinese meal with rice

4 medium eggs
1 small onion, cut in half and then sliced lengthwise
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
salt and sugar
cooking oil – I used sunflower

Heat a pan over medium heat and add some oil when it’s hot. Beat the eggs and then pour them into the pan. Slowly stir fry them – you don’t want to make scrambled eggs; there should be large egg folds. When most of the egg has set, dish it out and set it aside.

Wipe out the pan and reheat it and add oil again. Add the onion slices and stir fry for a few minutes – I prefer them softened but you can reduce the time and keep them more crisp. Add the tomatoes and stir through. Salt to taste and then add twice as much sugar as salt. Cook until the tomatoes are to your liking. They shouldn’t be hard nor should they be sauce. I like mine soft with a lot of the liquid released. Stir in the egg that you set aside and when everything is hot, plate it.

Eat with white rice and perhaps another dish on the side.