Honey, I Blew Up an Eggplant

Eggplant or Aubergine come in many varieties and are grown all over the world. Among the types cultivated are Fairy Tale, Kermit, Lavender Frog Egg, Black Beauty, Galine (these last two are what we expect to see in the average U.S. local grocery), Turkish Orange, Barbarella, Snowy, Dancer, Israeli, Millionaire, Orient Charm, Thai White Ribbed, Thai Purple, and Filipino.

I have tried perhaps half a dozen. Baba ganoush is a staple snack for me as well as a number of other preparations. I have fried it, sauteed it, steamed it, baked it, and charred it on the stove top or the grill.

I live in Southern CA and with many ethnic markets to choose from I am lucky to find a plethora of veg from all over the world. On a recent shopping excursion, I noticed a long, slender, light green to pale lavender fruit labeled Filipino eggplant and into my basket it went. I was thinking baba ganoush but I was wrong.

When I got home, a Filipino friend was visiting and he told me it was a common vegetable from his youth. He told me he often prepares it simply as a saute with garlic and soy sauce. I quizzed the Google and the first six of eight listings were for Tortang Talong or Eggplant Omelet. Now to be clear, the search term was not Filipino Eggplant recipe, but simply Filipino Eggplant. My friend told me that it was also a very typical dish his mother often made.

Various recipes called for either roasting the eggplant over the open fire of the stove or a grill, roasting in the oven or even simple boiling. Each method calls for making holes in the skin with a knife or fork, I chose to ignore this detail since my typical fire roasting of eggplant for baba ganoush has taught me that keeping the moisture inside the fruit steams it faster than letting the steam escape.

After cooking and peeling the eggplant, it is mashed and separated with a fork to a flat slightly separated state with the stem end left whole to hold it together. It is then fried with scrambled egg and seasoned meat of some kind as a pancake style omelet.

The semi finals of American’s Got Talent was on so I decided to just pop it in the toaster oven on convection at 400° and avoid the tedious task of standing over a charring, smoking, blackening mess and the added work of pealing the scorched skin in small pieces which always stick to my fingers. I put the eggplant into the toaster oven and came back to turn it after 15 minutes. It was directly on the rack of the hot box. When I turned it, the fruit was only slightly softened and I though that it might take another ten minutes or so to fully cook through.

Twenty minute or so after the turn, I heard a surprisingly loud noise from the kitchen and realizing the oven was still on, and opened the door to a messy surprise. The skin had burst and splattered cooked eggplant all over the inside of the toaster oven. It looked pretty mangled, but surprisingly, yielded most of the flesh due to it’s stringy consistency. The remaining skin was like parchment and was actually very easy to remove. The resulting omelet however was quite tasty.

I still have not cleaned the oven and I had to wait for a week to see who had been eliminated from the show.

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