Switch up your eggplant meals by incorporating a new type of eggplant. Here are 6 different eggplant varieties to try and how to use them!
If you think of an eggplant, what pops into your head? For most it’s the dark purple gourd-shaped vegetable (like the emoji). But the eggplant world is actually quite expansive, and different dishes call for different variations! And when I realized this, I knew I needed to expand my eggplant cooking skills and see what I could do.
As fate would have it, I was delighted with all of the different options the world of the eggplant provides! I mean, switch from an Italian to a Thai white eggplant, and you essentially have an entirely new dish on your hands. So today, we’re breaking down 6 of the most widely used eggplants to give you the rundown and perhaps inspire your next eggplant feast.
1. Italian Eggplant
Ahhh, Italian eggplants. These are by far the most commonly used (at least in American cuisine), and are what you’ll usually find in most of your western eggplant recipes, like eggplant lasagna, eggplant parmesan, ratatouille, or even eggplant curry. They’re deep purple, sweet in flavor, and perfect for using in a wide variety of eggplant dishes. One with smooth, unwrinkled skin will prove the best contender for roasting, baking, boiling, or even sautéing.
P.S. You may see American (or globe) eggplants in your grocery store. These are the most similar to Italian eggplants and look much like the photo below, only a tad larger!
2. Filipino Eggplant
Next up, we have the Filipino eggplant! This variation has a longer, thinner shape than its Italian counterpart, with purple and green coloring and a slight curve. Best when cooked, this variation is great for stove top and grilled recipes. Try it in this Filipino Eggplant Omelet!
3. Chinese Eggplant
Did you know that eggplant is a huge staple in Chinese cuisine? I had no idea! But considering that they have their own variation (that happens to be sweet and über delicious), it makes sense. In the store, you’ll find this variation by looking for long, bright purple eggplants with a slight curve. Some may be straighter or a deeper purple.
Chinese eggplants are great in any Chinese recipe such as Szechuan or stir fry, and they’re also delicious when simply sautéd with flavorings like garlic sauce!
4. Indian Eggplant
Next up are Indian eggplants (or brinjal), which are smaller and more oval shaped than the variations we’ve covered thus far. These have the same bright purple coloring as Chinese eggplants but are much shorter in length! Indian eggplants have a milder flavor and a crunchier flesh.
The texture of these eggplants makes them great for grilling or roasting whole, and they’re also delicious when used in stir fry dishes! You can even slice, bread, and fry them (because why not?).
5. Thai White Eggplant
Thai white eggplants are sort of an outlier in the eggplant world. Not only are they totally different in color and shape (they’re white and nearly round), Thai eggplants are also one of the only types that are tasty when eaten raw. They’re also one of my favorite types of eggplants to enjoy! Though you can definitely use them in cooked recipes, their crunchiness makes them perfect for pairing with dips and other app-style snacks. (Fun fact: this is the variety that gave eggplants their name…can you see why?)
6. Green Thai Eggplant
Finally, we have Green Thai eggplants. Like the white version, these are about the size of golf ball and can be eaten raw or cooked. They’re perfect in stir fries and red or green curry recipes, and cook well when unpleeed.
Look for less ripened veggies, as they become more bitter the “older” they are. You can choose them by selecting the firmer options. The firmer they are, the less ripe they will be.