Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tortang Giniling...Meat Frittata...

If you check Wikipedia, torta is a mexican sandwich or spanish for round cake. By the looks of this particular torta, it is more like meat frittata (an italian omelet).

The Pinoy version of torta is wonderful anytime of the day. And parents like me can "hide" the veggies which some kids shun. My family loves it with rice. Although an extra helping in the fridge makes it a hefty filling for pandesal, soft roll or wheat bread for snack on school days.

It doesn't take much skill to cook torta, however, creating the perfectly round torta can be a challenge. So it is always good to look back at tradition and do it the way our parents did it back when there where no teflon, non-stick pans. The secret is using banana leaf. Not only will you get a perfect torta all the time, it also smells good and has a slight hint of smokey taste that the banana leaf gives.

This is what my husband grew up with-- a cooking tradition I find worth passing on.
1 onion, coarsely chopped
300 to 350 grams of ground meat. I use either all pork or half pork/half beef
Make sure it's lean.
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into small cubes
small to medium potato, cut into small cubes
small to medium carrot, cut into small cubes
(tiny cubes about the size of crumbled ground meat is advisable when you want to add veggies to your child's diet)
1 T soy sauce
1-2 T ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs

Heat pan through, preferably non-stick pan. Add 1 T of oil and saute the onions till transparent. Add the red bell pepper, then the ground meat and stir till the pink meat color is gone.

Add the veggies and cover for about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the seasoning until mixture is relatively dry, (not watery). Should your meat be fatty, drain the oil. Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, beat 3 eggs till frothy. Once the meat mixture is cool, add to the eggs and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Get a banana leaf and remove the mid rib. Cut into 2 pieces, which should be 2-3 inches bigger all around than the pan. Heat the banana leaf over stove flame quickly. This is to wilt the leaf to make it easy to handle.

Heat your pan through and line it with banana leaf. Pour the meat and egg mixture. And cover.

Keep heat low to ensure even cooking and prevent the banana leaf from scorching. Cover the pan for about 10 minutes. Check to see if the mixture has set. At the edges, the egg will begin to cook. If it is still runny, give it another 5 minutes.

Here's the challenging part: put the second banana leaf on top of the pan, get a plate bigger than the pan and use this to cover the leaf. Keep the plate firm with one hand and with some serious wrist action, flip the pan. This would have turned the torta, revealing the cooked side. Simply slide the banana leaf on the pan to cook the eggs completely.

Let it cool a bit before serving. Because by then, the torta is firm and easy to slice into wedges. Keep in its leaf lining so your family or guests will appreciate the aroma of the warm banana leaf.


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