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Fish and Eggplant Adobo with Coconut Milk

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In Filipino, adobong isda at talong sa gata. In English, fish and eggplant adobo with coconut milk. Who said you can’t make adobo with fish and eggplants?

Adobong Isda at Talong sa Gata (Fish and Eggplant Adobo with Coconut Milk) Recipe

Fish adobo with coconut milk is not new. Adobong hito sa gata (catfish adobo with coconut milk) is a dish that’s older than my grandmother.

Vegetable adobo with coconut milk is not new either. In fact, adobong sitaw (yard-long beans) sa gata, with or without meat, is rather ubiquitous.

But I haven’t come across a Filipino adobo that combines vegetables with seafood. And I thought… why not? No earthly reason why it shouldn’t turn out well.

And so this fish and eggplant adobo with coconut milk was born. Not that I intended to cook it that way. Originally, I thought I’d make eggplant adobo with coconut milk as a side dish to fried fish. But the fish steaks didn’t come out crispy (the stove in Alex’s kitchen doesn’t have a two-ring burner so the heat wasn’t high enough to make the fish crispy). So, I broke the flesh into chunks after cooking and tossed the pieces, along with the eggplants, in adobo sauce.

Risky, I know. I couldn’t have ruined our lunch. But, you know, you’ll never know if something will work unless you try.

The result? Quite wonderful. A new template for adobo, definitely. Seafood and veggies.

Adobong Isda at Talong sa Gata (Fish and Eggplant Adobo with Coconut Milk)

Fish and Eggplant Adobo with Coconut Milk

Is it traditional adobo? Hardly. While the flavors are a hundred per cent adobo, the cooking method is different. Adobo is a stew; this dish isn't. The components — fish, eggplants and sauce — are cooked separately (don't worry, you only need one pan).
Why cook the ingredients separately? So as not to lose on contrast in flavor and to preserve the texture of both the fish and the eggplants. Simmer the fish for too long in the sauce and the flesh falls apart. Simmer the eggplants in the sauce for too long and you lose their subtle sweetness — sweetness that serves as a delightful counterpoint to the sour adobo sauce.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Modern Filipino
Keyword: Adobo
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Author: Connie Veneracion

Ingredients

  • 500 grams fish steaks (fillets will work too)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 4 to 6 Asian eggplants split lengthwise then cut into half-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic lightly pounded and peeled
  • 2 shallots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • toasted garlic bits to garnish
  • fried shallots to garnish
  • thinly sliced scallions to garnish
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Instructions

  • Rinse the fish and wipe dry with paper towels. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on all sides.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  • Lightly fry the fish on both sides just until done. DO NOT overcook. Scoop out and move to a plate.
  • Using two forks, cut the fish flesh into chunks.
  • In the remaining oil, lightly fry the eggplants. Scoop out and spread on a plate just before they are done (they will continue to soften off the heat).
  • In the remaining cooking oil, saute the garlic, shallots and bay leaves.
  • Pour in the vinegar, sprinkle in salt and pepper, and allow to bubble until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Pour in the coconut cream. Taste. Adjust the seasonings, as needed. Heat just until the mixture is bubbly.
  • Add the fish and eggplants to the sauce. Toss lightly (be careful not to break the eggplants and fish) but thoroughly to coat each piece of fish and eggplant with sauce.
  • Garnish the fish and eggplant adobo with coconut cream with toasted garlic, fried shallots and sliced scallion. Serve immediately.
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How to Cook Adobong Isda at Talong sa Gata (Fish and Eggplant Adobo with Coconut Milk)