09 Mar Eggplant: A fruit by any other name…
Eggplant happens to be one of my favorite fruits.
Yes, I said fruit. And it’s because eggplant has seeds and comes from a flowering plant as opposed to a root or a stem. In England, Australia and France eggplant is known as Aubergine. Eggplant is an Old World fruit with Asian origins dating back to 618 AD in China with examples of it being eaten raw and cooked.
Eggplant has many uses across the world such as in curries, caponata (a mixture of eggplant, olives, tomatoes, capers and pine nuts from Sicily) and ratatouille (a mixture of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, squash, bell pepper and herbs from France). In Japan it is often grilled or sautéed with ginger, garlic and other herbs. Or it is fried to seal in the juices and then sautéed with other sauces or vegetables. In China it has many uses as well and some of my favorite ways to use it!
Types of Eggplant
American or Globe Eggplant: The largest in size and is great for dicing and for ratatouille due to its ease of dicing because of its size. PRO TIP: If you pick the eggplant that is less round and more slender, it will tend to be less bitter because it has less seeds. This variety also happens to probably be the most bitter and least delicate in flavor.
Italian Eggplant: A bit smaller in length and circumference and a bit sweeter than what you will find in the USA. The most famous example of it can be found in the popular dish Melanzane alla Parmigiana claimed by both the Sicily and Campania regions of Italy. Also found in the Caponata from Sicily.
Thai Eggplant: Very rare to find across the United States, but it is well worth it if you stumble upon it in an Asian grocery store. It is green and the size of a golf ball and can be eaten raw. It almost resembles a fig when cut open. This is the eggplant you will traditionally find in curries in Thailand. It is absolutely delicious!
Chinese and Japanese Eggplant: Often the most delicate in flavor and most slender in size. They are also a lighter shade of purple and can be found in all curries, stir fried vegetables etc.
Other strains of eggplant you might find are White Eggplant, Graffiti Eggplant, or the beautiful, tiny Fairytale Eggplant which are creamy, delicately sweet and perfect for grilling, sautéeing or frying. Rosa Bianca Eggplant can be found in Sicily and is devoid of bitterness in the skin so its perfect for any of Italian recipes or classic Sicilian dishes. Indian eggplant are great for stews, curry or grilled; they are far less common and harder to find as well.
Eggplant is the perfect addition to many wonderful dishes that you can prepare at home or indulge in at your favorite restaurant. I’m always on the hunt for new recipes. Shoot me your favorites here.