Solanum Melongena

Talong- Eggplant, Aubergine,

A perennial plant, eggplant is treated as an annual because it only thrives during the hot summer. It belongs to the nightshade family of plants like tomatoes and peppers.
It practically comes in all shapes and sizes and colors range from purple to white. But the most popular in my place is the long and purple variety.

Eggplant seeds can be started before the last frost in a greenhouse then transplanted in the garden bed as soon as the soil warms up. The soil should be well amended with compost and you can add lime if the soil is too acidic. It needs to be well watered and fertilized with a balance fertilizer like 16-16-16 during the growing season. Add fertilizer with the higher middle number like 15-30-15 as soon as you see flower forming. It will bear purple flowers that will soon turn into a glossy and beautiful fruit. You need to harvest the fruits while tender and glossy otherwise the fruit will be tough and be filled with mature seeds and sometimes will taste bitter too.

Eggplant is probably the most eaten vegetable in my hometown. The simplest way we cook the eggplant is by roasting them in the grill with hot , burning charcoals from pine woods, then peel them and dip them in fish sauce as a main course meal alongside a freshly cooked steam rice, white or brown. (We used to have brown rice during my grandparents days). Either that, you can use the roasted eggplant and mix in a bowl of well-beaten eggs and you can pan fry them as omelet or torte.

Eggplant is the main ingredient in our dishes like pinakbet (ratatouille) and kare-kare or oxtail stew, a dish made to look like curry but we don’t put curry powder at all. Instead, we use achuete as food coloring and then thickening the sauce with toasted ground rice and ground peanuts (peanut butter can be used as a substitute for ground peanuts). The other vegetables we used in this dish are the sitaw, (long beans) petsay (pak choi) and banana heart or blossom (artichoke is a good substitute for the banana heart). We served the dish with sautéed shrimp paste. Used as a side dish for Pochero (a Spanish Beef Stew), the eggplant is once again roasted and mashed with garlic, then seasoned with vinegar, salt and pepper.

My favorite recipe is simply pan-frying the eggplants in olive oil and then dip in vinegar with garlic and soy sauce.

It may not have a list of all the nutrition like other vegetables, eggplant is still the most versatile of all vegetables. I think it is my favorite.