When the grill is fired up and you throw on some serious fat (like liempo, pork barbecue, pork chops) or a nice hunk of fish, the perfect salad or side dish to serve with it is this totally simple but delicious talong or eggplant salad. I personally love the pairing of fat and acid â€“ thus pork barbecue served with atsara (picked papaya), deep fried dried fish dipped in vinegar, grilled tanguigue served with green mango relish, etc. The acid does a nice job of â€œcuttingâ€ and or balancing the fat. If I want a taste of home even when I am thousands of miles away from home, this salad does the trick and its ingredients are so common there are few places that I have been unable to do this.
To make: fire up a grill or barbecue. Before you do the meat or fish or whatever main course you are having, take several Asian eggplants (the long skinny purple or white green varieties) and grill them close to or right on top of the coals. Their skins will burn, blister and turn generally wicked looking. Be careful to keep turning them around to burn or singe evenly. I have read that this is possible just over an open flame on a kitchen stove but I have never done that. I do have an indoor grill on my Viking and that works pretty good and is my second choice after an actual outdoor barbecue grill. Once they look cooked and have softened a bit, take them off the fire and let them rest on a plate for several minutes (they will continue to cook). Next, the only pain in the neck step, you have to peel off the charred skin and remove any remnants of â€œblackâ€ to yield these â€œnakedâ€ but cooked eggplants.
Chop them up into cubes and put in a bowl. Add chopped ripe red tomatoes, chopped white or red onion (volumes to your liking), add salt, and a nice native vinegar. I like my version to be spicy so I use the homemade sili (chilli) vinegar that I wrote about several weeks ago. It is very spicy. If you want a bit of color, some chopped chives or green onion would do the trick. Serve immediately with the barbecue you have just taken off the grill. Yum!