The other day I was thrilled to spot Japanese eggplant at the farmers market. In case you don't know the distinction from the American globe eggplant commonly found at the store, Japanese eggplant has a thinner skin and a sweet, delicate flavor. Like most eggplant, it grows in season from July to October. To find out what to look for,
- Choose firm, dark-colored vegetables with smooth, shiny skin. They should be light for their size.
- Select young eggplant varieties. The younger they are, the more tender they will be.
- Avoid older eggplant, which will have a dull color and soft texture. The eggplant will take on a bitter flavor as it ages.
- Avoid eggplant with bruised patches.
- Store eggplant uncut and unwashed in a plastic bag in the cooler section of your refrigerator for up to a week. Beware that eggplant does not fare well in extremely cold settings.
Some preparation tips:
- Soak eggplant in salted water before cooking to prevent them from turning brown.
- Because eggplant is highly absorbent, add extra oil when stir-frying or frying eggplant.
- Toss with garlic and oil in a stir-fry.
- Sauté with garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and just a hint of sugar until soft.
- Deep-fry and sprinkle with minced garlic and salt.
- Use in place of globe eggplant in any dishes calling for eggplant — you won't have any of the bitterness.
What are your experiences, if any, with Japanese eggplant? I'd love to hear your preparation suggestions!