Ginataan is a Filipino cooking technique where ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, or fruits are simmered in coconut milk. It can be sweet or savory depending on the ingredients — the term ginataan by itself refers to a warm dessert soup traditionally served in the Philippines as merienda, mid-afternoon snacks that help make the long wait between lunch and dinner more tolerable.
Eggplants and green beans make up the gulay or vegetable portion of this recipe. It can also include squash (kalabasa), bitter melon (ampalaya), and okra, but this recipe calls for the vegetables that cook quickest. This version is done in about 15 minutes after all the prepping is done.
This green and purple ginataan dish is exactly how I remember it prepared in our household. Incidentally, that same juxtapose of colors is the reason I wouldn’t eat it as a child. It reminded me of none other than Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker. I found his wide maniacal grin disturbing, but even worse, he also reminded me of clowns.
recipe adapted from Gerry G. Gelle’s Filipino Cuisine: Recipes from the Islands
Ginataang Talong at Sitaw
Eggplants and Green Beans Simmered in Coconut Milk
makes 4 servings
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, julienned
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 Japanese eggplants (or any varietal, about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste (bagoong alamang)
12 ounces canned or freshly squeezed coconut milk
hot chiles, to taste (optional)
- Afraid of using stinky fermented shrimp paste? Once heated, it gets mellower and combines with the coconut milk to create a classic Filipino flavor profile. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it, but substitute minced anchovies or plain salt to replace bagoong alamang.
In a heavy saucepan, saute the garlic, ginger, and onions in the vegetable oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and green beans and cook for 2 minutes while stirring frequently.
Stir in the shrimp paste, coconut milk, and hot chiles (if using). Cover the saucepan and simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with either more shrimp paste or salt if necessary.
Serve as a side dish or main course with a bowl of steaming hot rice.