Ensaladang Talong (Grilled Eggplant Salad)

This Filipino dish of smoky flame-kissed vegetables and tart sugarcane vinegar is a welcome addition to any summer cookout.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    25 minutes


By Von Diaz

Published on July 1, 2024

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In her book, Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking, author Von Diaz takes a journey around the globe, capturing the creative and resilient cooking traditions of six different island nations. Ensaladang talong, a simple preparation of grilled eggplant, onion, and tomato, is a staple of the Philippines. It is often topped by the pungent, bright pink salted shrimp paste known as bagoong alamang, and served alongside steamed white rice and ripe mango. You can find bagoong alamang at Asian grocers or online, though it’s entirely optional for this dish. A little goes a long way, so Diaz suggests trying a dab with a slice of mango first to see how much you should add to your ensaladang talong. For a vegetarian alternative, Diaz recommends a paste of equal parts white miso and minced capers.

Adapted from Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking by Von Diaz, © 2024. Published by Chronicle Books.


  • 4 medium Japanese eggplants
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • ½ tsp. sugarcane or white vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Steamed white rice and sliced ripe mango, for serving (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. bagoong alamang shrimp paste, for serving (optional; see headnote)


Step 1

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high. Grill the eggplant, tomatoes, and onion, turning occasionally with tongs, until the onion and tomato are softened and lightly charred, 6–10 minutes total, and the eggplant is fully softened and charred in places, 14–20 minutes total. Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board and set aside. 

Step 2

Without cutting all the way through to the bottom, slice the eggplants open lengthwise, then transfer to a platter. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and onion, then divide evenly on top of the ­eggplants.

Step 3

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and salt until the salt and sugar have dissolved, about 2 minutes. Pour over the vegetables on the platter. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice, mango, and shrimp paste on the side, if desired.

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