My husband Billy and I are going tee-total and vegetarian for January; extreme measures, I know, but it feels like the right thing to do after all the face-stuffing over Christmas. We did it last year and, although it was hard going for the first couple of weeks (I kept accidentally buying sausages, which my daughter Betsy was delighted about as they are her absolute favourite thing), once we had got into the swing of it we actually enjoyed cooking and eating vegetarian recipes.
As well as discovering alternatives to meat (Quorn, tofu, lentils, all the cheese) I also found that often you can just cut the meat out of a recipe and it will still taste delicious. We continued to eat fish, which made things easier as it was a dramatic enough change to our usual diet to cut out meat and wine. By the end of the month we felt healthy and energised, we had both lost weight (an unexpected bonus, considering all the cheese) and we had spent less on our food shopping. Since then we still eat meat but less of it, and we are more mindful of it when we do.
‘Tortang Talong’ is a Filipino aubergine omelette where you keep the aubergine whole so that it looks all spectacular on the plate. If you are a fan of aubergine, like me, you will love this. It is quick, cheap and easy to cook and uses just a few ingredients. It is traditionally served with steamed rice and a splodge of banana ketchup - a staple Filipino condiment, like normal ketchup with added zing. Look out for it in your local Asian supermarket. I followed a recipe (which I tweaked and added ingredients to) from a beautiful book called ‘7000 Islands; A Food Portrait of the Philippines’ by Yasmin Newman, an anthology of Filipino recipes with stunning photographs and stories about the Philippines
I hope you likey-like, and please share your photos and thoughts if you have a go at cooking it yourself.
PS Be strong fellow Dry January people, the end is in sight! And a big slap on the back for those doing it for charity.
TORTANG TALONG (serves 1)
Ingredients: 1 aubergine, 1 egg, 1/4 red onion thinly sliced, small garlic clove finely chopped, squeeze of honey, 1 tbsp olive/coconut oil, bit of thinly sliced spring onion and/or some fresh herbs
- Place the aubergine over an open flame and slowly turn until the skin is charred and starting to blister - about 5 mins. I stabbed a fork into the stalk end which saves burning any fingers and makes it easy to rotate. Allow to cool a little then peel off the skin, which should come away easily.
- While you're doing this season and fry the onion and garlic with a blob of honey until it starts to brown and caramelise. On my first attempt I used raw onions, but fried ones are much yummier.
- Beat and season the egg and pour onto a plate, then, holding the aubergine by the stalk, place it onto the egg and squish it down with a fork so that it fans out but still remains whole.
- Spread the onions onto the aubergine, and spoon some of the egg on top of it all.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and tip the aubergine, and all the eggy-oniony mixture in with it, trying to keep it on top of the aubergine rather than spreading out too much. This is a messy step so don't worry if it doesn't look too pretty yet.
- Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden.
- Sprinkle with any herbs that you have (coriander works well) and/or some finely chopped spring onion, and a big pile of steamed rice.