What Kind of Eggplant Is This?

  • 01 of 08

    What Kind of Eggplant Is This?

    many eggplants
    Photo © Maximilian Stock Ltd/Getty Images

    When I say "eggplant," you may well have an oblong, deep dark purple vegetable with a jaunty green cap attached to it pop into your mind. No doubt that that is the most common type of eggplant found in the U.S., yet the world of eggplants is wider. Bigger. Sometimes smaller. Fatter. Or skinnier. Sweeter. Or more bitter. Greener. Whiter. More stripe-y. In short, the range of eggplant flavors isn't huge, but there is more range than most people realize.

    Whatever color and shape of eggplant you're buying, always choose eggplants that have smooth, shiny skin and feel heavy for their size.

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Globe Eggplant (a.k.a. American Eggplant)

    globe eggplant
    Photo © Jon Boyes/Getty Images

    Should we be surprised that globe eggplants, the biggest and fattest of eggplants, are also known as American eggplants? Their big, meaty texture makes them particularly well suited for serving as slices of grilled eggplant. Their size also makes them good candidates for roasting for grilling whole.

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  • 03 of 08

    Italian Eggplant

    eggplant italian
    Photo © Molly Watson

    These large dark purple eggplants are a bit smaller and thinner than globe eggplants, and they tend to have a sweeter flavor. They aren't just or even officially Italian, but they are often labeled as Italian in the U.S. and used in Italian recipes, such as eggplant Parmesan.

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  • 04 of 08

    Japanese Eggplant

    eggplant japanese
    Photo © Molly Watson

    Like the eggplant above, these longer and thinner eggplants aren't confined to Japan or Japanese cuisine, but these smaller, skinny eggplants are often referred to as Japanese or, sometimes, Chinese eggplant. A wide variety of comparatively long and skinny eggplant will be so labeled, and you'll see some at markets that are half the width of the ones pictured here.

    Note that they come in a range of shades of purple, including a deep almost-black purple. Their slim shape makes them particularly good for cutting on the bias (a.k.a. "roll cutting") and stir-frying in big chunks.

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  • 05 of 08

    Rosa Bianca Eggplant

    eggplant rosa bianca
    Photo © Molly Watson

    The beautiful markings on this eggplant do not, unfortunately, keep their vibrancy once the vegetable is cooked, but I have trouble resisting choosing these at the market just because they are so darn pretty. They do have a slightly more delicate flavor and less bitter tendencies than their more purple brethren.

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  • 06 of 08

    Indian Eggplant

    eggplant thai
    Photo © Molly Watson

    These cute and squat eggplants are more common in Indian cooking. They are good to slice and fry or cube and stew, or cook whole, scoop out the tender insides and make sauces, dips, or a classic raita.

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  • 07 of 08

    Thai Eggplant

    thai eggplant
    Photo © Will Heap/Getty Images

    These small eggplant orbs common in Thailand aren't always green—they come in purple and white, too—but they definitely have a tendency to be more bitter than other types of eggplants. Be wise and remove their seeds.

    Brining them before cooking them also helps to draw out their bitter essence. They also stand up well to lots of spice and stewing, making them ideal for adding to curries.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    White Eggplant

    eggplant white
    Photo © Molly Watson

    There's no real flavor difference between white eggplant and other colors, but they sure look cool. Their flavor is a bit more delicate, a little less eggplant-y, if the strong, bitter flavor of eggplant is a tad much for you.