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Frittata with Longganisang Iloko (Sausage from Ilocos) and Eggplant

Tuesday, June 24, 2014Enz F

Becoming a motherless child at the age of 5 was one of the earliest tragedies of my innocence, an adversity I had to firmly and resolutely deal with for the rest of my life. It was a life’s test that no one was prepared for. My Dad did not marry another woman following my mother’s death so my paternal Grandma had to move to our home in Manila from Antipolo to carry out and fulfill the duties left by my Mom. Lola (Grandma) could still move around the house but she was already an aging woman and her age was already taking a toll on her. At a very young age, I was taught to become independent in many ways and being a big brother to our youngest, who was only 3 years old then, was a responsibility I had mandatorily borne on my shoulders. There were mornings that I had to cook our own breakfast and pack our school lunch as Lola was not always at her peak health since she was already enduring her worsening rheumatism. I was a young boy who considered the kitchen as the first playground and the chopping board as the first toy. Oddly, I was more engrossed to smelling the fragrance of the roasting chicken more than watching Batman and Robin series. I never felt differently in any way though. I never despised it. I actually loved it and never realized that the simple enjoyment would eventually turn out into a passion.


A very colorful and flavorful Italian savory egg-cake with a Filipino twist.
One of my bragging rights as a child was being able to chop onions and fry a sunny-side up egg with an unbroken yolk at the middle. Those were talents I had long perfected since the day I learned to groove in front of the stove top to the tune of the splattering cooking oil with pan and spatula as my dancing partners. Cooking simple breakfasts was what I considered my first childhood romance before I could actually experience my first kiss. I did not know any formula or what sort of parenting skills did Lola and Dad hide up their sleeves but they were able to instill in me many incredible things and entrust me with countless tasks that for most children my age would be something tedious and to detest for. They planted in me invaluable possessions and disguised them into something not so profound to bear but rather a bright sunny day to make fun and to look forward to. Now that I am an adult and a man that my niece and nephews look up to, I am harvesting the fruits of my parents’ beautiful labor. Being creative and resourceful is something I have carried along and best put into use while growing up. And looking back to all the misfortunes that were thrown along my way, I came to realize that life was never that bad at all. Every single thing was actually a blessing to be thankful for.

Learning to cook eggs was probably one of my training grounds in the kitchen. When Lola could not cook breakfast, I would just peep into the shelves of our refrigerator and there I would find the piles of eggs that Lola would always keep for us. I had experimented a lot on eggs – boiled, sunny-side up, scrambled, tortang talong (eggplant omelet), cheesy, deviled. Egg was the easiest protein I could cook and I could not imagine the countless days I had to reinvent a dish or viand with the help of eggs. There was one morning, my brother and I needed to pack some food as we are heading on to a whole day grade school educational field trip. Lola could not cook for us so I had no choice but to step up the kitchen platform and let the heavens make a magical twist on my egg dish. Tired of the same old sunny-side up version I had been cooking most of the time, I came up with an omelet that is sort of thicker and more filled than the usual one. I whisked some eggs and added some ingredients to serve as fillings like vegetables, minced meat and cheese. Voila! A young imaginative grade-schooler was able to cook his very first frittata, an Italian egg omelet similar to a pizza or crustless tart made even colorful, flavorful and richer with whatever ingredients and spices available at hand. I never realized then that what I made was actually the very prized and famous Italian way of preparing a savory egg-cake. I really loved it and even fancied doing numerous versions with different kinds of stuffings. Indeed, I was thankful of this new found rediscovery as I had come across unlimited ways of enjoying my egg breakfast. 


Longganisang Iloko is a famous sausage from my grandmother's hometown in Ilocos.
My latest to my long list of egg dishes is Frittata with Longganisang Iloko (Sausage from Ilocos) and Eggplant. Longganisang Iloko is the famous garlic-infused sausage of the Ilocos Region in the north. It is usually made from minced pork or beef mixed with plenty of ground garlic, marinated with salt and sukang Iloko (Ilocos sugar cane vinegar) and usually encased into the intestinal linings of cows or pigs. What sets it apart from the longganisa made in other Philippine provinces such as Pampanga and Lucban is that it is not the usual sweet and reddish sausage that is at times loaded with meat extenders and treated with nitrite which is not a health-friendly substance specially if ingested with incorrect amounts. Ilocanos take pride of their sausages that are purely animal meat, processed with the finest spices and vinegar, and chemical-free. My uncle, who works as a municipal health worker and takes charge of the periodic inspections of meat and poultry products in common wet markets in the northern Philippine provinces, attested that Ilocano longganisa is one of the safest Philippine-made sausages for human consumption. 

My passion for good yet colorful and flavorful foods is one of the numerous outcomes of having to grow up in the hands of a father and a grandmother with incredible and unfathomable parenting skills. I owe to them the grown up man that I am right now. Their legacy is my most priceless and most precious possession I would never exchange for any material wealth.

Frittata with Longganisang Iloko (Sausage from Ilocos) and Eggplant
Number of Servings: 6

INGREDIENTS: 
  • 6 whole eggs 
  • 5 pcs. longganisang Iloko (native sausage from Ilocos), casings removed 
  • 2 pcs. small Japanese eggplant, chopped into round slices 
  • 2 pcs. red bell pepper, finely chopped 
  • 3 small tomatoes, finely chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • ½ tsp. oregano powder 
  • ½ tsp. dried basil 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • ½ tsp. pepper 
  • ¼ cup whole milk 
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch 
  • ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese 
  • ¼ cup spring onions, chopped 
  • 2 tbsps. butter 

PROCEDURE: 
  1. In a large bowl, lightly beat and whisk together the eggs, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Dissolve the cornstarch in milk and then add in the egg mixture. Stir well to combine and set aside. 
  2. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until very fragrant and translucent. 
  3. Add tomatoes and cook until soft and juicy. Toss in the sausages and break into fine pieces. Continue cooking until the sausage meat turns light brown and is rendering fat. 
  4. Add bell peppers and eggplants. Stir to combine. Cover the pan for 2 minutes, just enough until the eggplants are almost wilted. 
  5. Evenly pour the beaten egg over the eggplant and sausage mixture. Make sure the egg is spread over the pan. Do not stir. Set the stove heat on low. 
  6. Sprinkle the grated cheese and spring onions. Cover the pan to cook for 5 minutes or until the eggs are almost set at the bottom. Let the residual heat of the pan continue to cook the eggs. Finish the frittata by broiling the top for 1 minute or just until the cheese is melted. 
  7. Slide the frittata on a platter or a large dish. Cut into wedges and serve. Enjoy 

TIPS FROM ENZ: 
  • You may do the oven method if preferred. Once the egg mixture is added, transfer the pan in a 400ºF (200ºC) preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes or until the eggs are set. Remove from the oven and then sprinkle the cheese and spring onions. Return in the oven to cook for 5 more minutes or until the cheese is melted. Make sure to use an oven-proof pan.

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