The tortang talong may be one of the best Southeast Asia food but the dish is not as easy to prepare as some may say or think. This is especially true if you’re tasked with peeling off the burnt skin of the talong after it’s been roasted.
It’s a hassle, we agree, but the task is an essential step in the recipe. The thick skin or peel of the eggplant should be removed to expose the tender flesh inside. To do this, eggplant is commonly placed directly into the open flame of your stovetop (or an oven or grill) where the peel blisters and the flesh softens. This burnt characteristic of the peel not only delivers a great charred taste to the eggplant but also makes it easy to remove, so you don’t experience that papery or plasticky mouthfeel or texture that can be unappetizing for some people.
It might sound easy to remove but for some, it’s a troublesome task. Little bits of burnt peel notoriously stick to the flesh and is hard to remove completely. For those who aren’t OC about it, leaving it on can save you from testing your limited patience.
If you’re one of those who dread doing this task, we have good news: there’s an easy way to do it.
The trick is to not only steam the talong once the peel is completely charred but to use a kitchen towel or paper towel to get a good grip on the peel to remove it. The other tip is to peel it while it’s still warm and not completely cool. This way, the steam and condensation will help you remove the charred peel better.
Here’s how to do it:
- 1 Turn on the flame of your stovetop or roast the eggplant in the oven or over a red hot grill.
- 2 Turn the eggplant as needed to char the peel evenly all over the surface of the eggplant.
- 3 Once charred all over, immediately place the eggplant in a sealed container. (This can be a plastic or paper bag, container, or even a bowl or pot covered with a lid. Let the eggplant cool just enough so you can handle the eggplant while still warm.
- 4 Using a kitchen towel or a paper towel, wrap it around the charred peel of the eggplant. Gripping the eggplant firmly with one hand on the stem and one around the towel that is around the charred eggplant, pull the towel to peel off the burnt peel from the eggplant. Discard any burnt peel and do it again if necessary with a lighter touch so as to not squash the flesh of the eggplant.
Tada! Peeled! If you still have some pesky but tiny charred bits on your eggplant after this, leave it on to give your tortang talong an even more charred taste!
Want to see how it’s done? This video using a charred red pepper makes it seem so easy and it’s done using a paper bag instead of a towel!
Need ideas on what to do once you have your roasted talong now that you know the trick to peeling it better? Try these recipes: