Yes, it's true. There's more to the eggplant than meets the eye. In fact, this versatile veggie, which most of us recognize as long, wide and purple, comes in many shapes and sizes. They can be small and round like a golf ball or thin and long like a zucchini; they can be white, yellow, lavender, pink or green. Some of the more popular of these varieties include the Thai Yellow Egg, the Japanese White Egg, the Ping Tung Long, the African Garden Eggs and the Chinese Round Mauve.
The most common eggplant grown in Thailand is the Thai Eggplant. This golfball-sized vegetable is bitter in taste; the seeds are particularly harsh and are removed before cooking. This eggplant comes in many colors, but is typically green with yellow or white stripes. The Yellow Egg is a Thai heirloom eggplant that's yellow in color. The Thai Long Green is another heirloom variety that's long and light green. These eggplants are used cubed in hot curry dishes.
Japanese White Egg
The Japanese White Egg eggplant is very productive, giving large quantities of small white vegetables. These eggplants have a thin skin and a delicate, sweet flavor. The vegetable is slender and comes in a variety of colors including white, pink, green, lavender or purple. Its stem is most often dark purple. The White Egg is roasted and served as a side or added to Japanese soups or sesame chicken.
Ping Tung Long
The Ping Tung Long eggplant is long and dark purple. Its flesh is tender and sweet. Named after its native town of Ping Tung in Taiwan, it's popular throughout Asia. It's best prepared grilled and served with salt and olive oil.
African Garden Eggs
African Garden Egg eggplants are known for being small and bitter. They're almost always yellow in color. This eggplant is usually grown in small gardens and eaten throughout West Africa. It's usually prepared by being chopped into small pieces, cooked, then mixed into various meat, fish and vegetable dishes and sauces.
Chinese Round Mauve
The Round Mauve eggplant is a Chinese heirloom with small to medium-sized fruits. It's pale lavender in color with subtle patterns of purple. It's usually eaten when it is the size of a tennis ball, which is when the seeds are least noticeable. The skin is soft, so it's rarely peeled. You can use this eggplant in almost any recipe.
Francine Juhasz has a doctorate in clinical psychology and is a Qi Gong and yoga teacher, health and nutrition freelance journalist and featured self-help and life-skills speaker. For more than 30 years she has conducted programs, workshops, seminars and private counseling sessions in emotional, mental, marital and sexual health and fitness in universities, elder-care communities and community centers in both the U.S. and Europe.