Tuesday, May 31, 2011
poqui-poqui: ilocano eggplant frittata
Meet the poqui-poqui, an Ilocano dish made of eggplants, tomatoes, onions, and eggs. It's so easy to make and is simply delicious. When we were kids our mother told us it was called pongky-pongky. We found out only recently that it was just us that called it such. Mommy was apparently too modest to use its original name.
To make poqui-poqui for two people, you need the following:
2 or 3 medium eggplants, sliced (see directions below)
two ripe tomatoes, sliced into wedges
half an onion, sliced (use red onion if you want it sweeter; you can also use shallots)
2 or 3 medium eggs (I read somewhere that laying large eggs causes the chicken discomfort)
salt to taste
vegetable oil for sauteing
To cook poqui-poqui the traditional way, you have to grill the eggplants until their skins are charred. Charring causes the skin to crack and it becomes easy to peel off. It also gives the eggplant a nice, smoky flavor. Others have simplified this process. Instead of grilling, they choose to boil the eggplants. Once cooked, the eggplants are sliced into inch-long pieces and set aside.
Our recipe simplifies the process even further.
(01) Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Then slice each half into half circles about a quarter of an inch thick.
(02) Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan.
(03) Add eggplants, sprinkle some salt, and cover the pan (you want the salt and steam to help along in the cooking). Uncover from time to time to stir the eggplants to ensure even cooking. We want the eggplants to become soft and mushy and slightly caramelized. You're done cooking the eggplants once they start browning and disintegrating when mashed.
(04) Mash the eggplants in the pan with the fire on. Then lower the fire.
(05) Create some space in the pan and saute the onions until translucent.
(06) Add the tomato slices and stir these into the eggplant-onion mixture. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy.
(07) Add the eggs one by one, and stir them into the eggplant-onion-tomato mixture. The idea is to blend the eggs with the vegetables.
(08) Continue stirring until the eggs are no longer runny. Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice or fried bread.
photo by jlgavino