Dad’s Tortang Giniling From Alvin Cailan

August 24, 2020
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Photo by Photo by Wyatt Conlon. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

"When I was growing up, we always had ground beef in the fridge. My mom would buy it for her sweet spaghetti, and there were always leftovers. To me, the smell of ground beef sautéing is heaven. There’s something about the fat content hitting the hot pan and the exhaust that it creates—it just smells so good. This is the ground beef dish that made my dad happiest: an omelet that he cooked with pageantry, like he was conducting an orchestra. With tortang giniling, you cook the meat first. After you drain the fat from the meat, you pop it in the refrigerator so the meat can cool. That way, when you scramble the eggs into the meat, the meat doesn’t cook the eggs with its residual heat. My dad would take that eggy-meat mix and use the sinigang ladle to scoop it up and fry it in a pan. The result was awesome: beef omelets for the whole family. This was his after-work meal, his go-to. My dad would top his omelet with patis, a Filipino fish sauce. As a kid, I would douse it in ketchup. As trashy as it sounds, I loved it. My dad used to plate the omelets like flapjacks. As a chef, I started layering the omelets in stacks of 10. I’d cut the stack like a cake and serve a wedge of it with hot rice."

Excerpted from AMBOY: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream © 2020 by Alvin Cailan. Photography © 2020 by Wyatt Conlon. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

What You'll Need
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Dad’s Tortang Giniling From Alvin Cailan
  • Canola oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Rufina patis (Filipino fish sauce; available at Asian markets and on Amazon)
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Sriracha or ketchup, for serving
  • Steamed jasmine rice, for serving
  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring often, until evenly browned, about 8 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper. Drain off and discard any juices and fat from the pan, then transfer the beef mixture to a medium bowl and let cool in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs and patis to the bowl and stir to combine. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until you see the oil ripple, about 1 minute. Using a medium ladle, add 1/2 cup of the egg-beef mixture to the skillet. Let the omelet set for 3 minutes, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the scallions. Flip the omelet and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining egg-beef mixture and scallions, adding another 1 teaspoon oil to the pan for each omelet.
  3. To serve, stack the omelets on top of each other and cut into 8 layered wedges. Serve with Sriracha or ketchup and rice.

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