Charmaine D. Mercado aka “The Raw Manileña”, a raw foodie who lives in Manila Philippines.
Raw Eggplant Salad by the Vegan Manilena
Hilaw na talong? Pwedeng-pwede! (Raw eggplant? Very possible!)
I’ve done raw eggplant lasagna and raw baba ganoush in the past so I know that raw eggplant ain’t bad at all. I’ve also marinated the purple nightshade with other vegetables and it ended up tasting like mushrooms (a pleasant outcome for me because I happen to love the taste of shrooms). Only last year did I try to raw-ify a local vegan salad that has cooked eggplant as its main ingredient. The unreasonable price of the salad was my motivation to whip up a raw version at home. I so regret not attempting to make a raw version of this salad in my earlier years as a raw foodie. It’s the best raw dish with eggplant I’ve made—so far.
The 2 usual raw or high-raw vegan Pinoy salads that you can order in restos specializing in traditional Filipino cuisine are the green mango salad (100% raw: green mango, white onion, and tomatoes) and eggplant salad (partially raw, about 60-75% raw: roasted baby eggplant, raw tomatoes, calamansi, and white onion). The servings are very meager and the prices really steep given the humble ingredients of both salads, but they’re the only dishes I can eat whenever my family craves for traditional Pinoy grub. When they serve me my 2 saucers of green mango and eggplant salads I keep saying to myself that this is the reason why Filipinos don’t like to eat foods that are raw and vegan. Local salads like these are just so freaking expensive. It’s just plain daylight robbery. Normal folks won’t order salads that are exorbitantly priced but not one-fourth as filling as a rice and meat dish. I still order them though. Apart from being the only high-raw, low GI vegan items in the menu, the sharp, overpowering smell of fresh raw onions kinda chokes the nauseating stench of cholesterol bombs such as bulalo (boiled beef marrow) and crispy pata (deep-fried pork leg) that my family prefers to feast on
The key to eating raw eggplant is patience. Unmarinated eggplant tastes really bitter. Just downright unpalatable. But let it sit in the ref for at least 12 hours and you have a spongy raw vegetable with a teeny-tiny hint of its cooked taste and all of its nutrients and enzymes intact. Another good thing about eating raw eggplant is that you get to chuck out the parts with wormies in them. People don’t normally bother checking their boiled eggplant for dead worms. Sorry, I don’t mean to be gross but this is the reality. They just peel the eggplant, mash it quickly, coat it with beaten egg, and fry it until it’s brown. And when they slice it they usually don’t give each piece a final scrutiny before forking it into their mouths. Not so with raw eggplant. You don’t get to add any infested piece into your raw dish.
Okay, enough yakking on my part. Here’s the recipe:
Hilaw na Ensaladang Talong
(Raw Eggplant Salad)
- 4 cups eggplant, french fry cut
- 3 1/2 cups sliced tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup fresh calamansi juice
- 1/8 cup cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- Toss all ingredients well and marinate in the ref for 12-20 hours. The salad is good for 3-4 people as a side dish or appetizer. But it’s good for just 1 person as a full meal. Now this may look like a lot of veggies but trust me it’s very light in the tummy. I get to finish the entire bowl in one sitting, and I’m just a 5-footer with an extra small built.
- I added chopped wombok or Chinese cabbage (one small head) for added texture just before attacking the salad. The crispy greens go really well with the soft vegetables. And they make the salad stay longer in the stomach too.
Not only is the raw ensaladang talong (eggplant salad) more nutritious and much, much cheaper. Compared to the partially raw salad it has a higher feel-good factor because it’s 100% raw. Also, the taste of the onions is so mellow you won’t mind eating 2 cups of them raw. Something worth trying if you hate raw onions. And the eggplant. You find out that eating it uncooked can be a quite enjoyable and unique gastronomic experience.
Now if only I can make a raw version of Richgail’s veganized tortang talong (eggplant omelette)! When I finally do I know I’d have the wildest mad scientist moment of my life
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