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Eggplant Or Aubergine


What Are Eggplants, How To Cook Eggplant



Eggplant of aubergine, cooking eggplants

The above image shows a type of eggplant that is very popular in Thailand. This eggplant is around 1.5 inches to 2 inches long (excluding the stem) and is a whitish green color. The green chicken curry dish is one of the popular Thai food recipes that, uses these eggplants as one of the ingredients. An image of the green chicken curry and a link to it's recipe page is provided below.



What Is An Eggplant Or Aubergine

There are a few types of eggplants. Biologists consider the eggplant to be a fruit rather than a vegetable. Aubergine is another name for the eggplant, and these can range in size from peanut size specimens to much longer aubergines that grow to almost a foot (12 inches) in length. When it comes to cooking an eggplant the interesting thing is that, it can absorb almost any flavour from any of the ingredients in the dish. In this article, we provide information of a particular type of eggplant that is a common ingredient in Thai food dishes. Aubergines or eggplants can be a green color, a white and green color combination or even deep purple. We will also discuss how to choose an eggplant and how to store it. Aubergines are generally cultivated throughout the year and the eggplant is therefore not considered to be a seasonal vegetable. Thailand is probably the only country where, an eggplant (particular type) is eaten raw, more details are given below.



General Information On The Eggplant

The eggplant or aubergine belongs to the same family as tomatoes and peppers. The interesting thing is that both tomatoes and peppers orginated in America whereas, eggplant or aubergine is a native of tropical Asia. Eggplants have been cultivated in Asia for more than 2,000 years and are biologically classified as fruits rather than vegetables. Today you will find Asian and Western varieties of aubregines, shorter varieties of the eggplant are grown in Asia and the longer varities are grown in Western countries. A particular type of aubergine is quite white in color and shaped like an egg, the Americans therefore gave it the name eggplant. The name then started to be used for all types of aubergines irrespective of their length, shape or color.


Aubergine, Aroma And Flavour In Cooking

There is a very interesting thing about the flavour of eggplants, in it's raw condition an aubergine would have a slightly bitter taste. Taste a raw eggplant and you might also notice it's smoky flavour. Fresh aubergines have a very weak bitter taste but, this bitter taste could get more pronounced as the eggplant gets overmatured. This is one of the reasons why you should select fresh aubergines when you shop for them. Talking about the smoky and bitter flavour of eggplants, some people do not like it because of these flavours but, many others love the eggplant for these very flavors. When it comes to cooking eggplants, you will find that it easily absorbs flavours from other ingredients. This is one of the reasons why aubergine recipes include, ingredients and seasonings with strong flavours.


Eating An Eggplant Raw

Not many people eat the eggplant raw it is generally cooked in some form or the other. However, a type of aubergine (image shown on this page) is sometimes eaten raw in Thailand. Fresh and tender eggplants of this type are eaten raw by dipping in spicy dip sauces. You might also find a Thai eating this eggplant by dipping it in a dry mixture of salt and chilli powder. The Thais either cut the eggplant into small strips and eat it raw or take a bite from the raw vegetable piece by piece. There have been no other reports of the eggplant being eaten raw so we presume that this is done only in Thailand.


How To Prepare And Cook Aubergines Or Eggplants.

Cooking aubergines depends on the recipe being followed, an eggplant could be fried, steamed, stuffed, baked or even roasted. In India, big purple rounded eggplants are roasted on an open flame. The burnt skin is then peeled off and the roasted flesh of the aubergine is prepared into a delicious dish. Other ingredients like onions, brown sugar and seasoning are added to the dish. In this eggplant recipe, the flesh of the aubergine becomes soft and pulpy, it is not of cutting consistency and is therefore mashed into a paste.

For most eggplant recipes, the following preparation of the aubergines would be required. Wash the aubergines in clean running water, cut off the stock from each of the eggplants. Depending on the eggplant recipe and the type of eggplant that is required, cut the eggplant into strips, slices or cubes. Very few if any, eggplant recipe would advise you to scrape or take off the skin of the eggplant before cooking. Most professional cooks prefer to leave the skin on the aubergine, it is believed to add a unique flavour and texture to the eggplant dish. An aubergine recipe that needs the aubergine to be roasted, might instruct you to take off the skin after the eggplant has been roasted.

Some recipes advise you to apply salt to the pieces of eggplant before cooking. Consider this as an optional requirement if you use fresh and tender aubregines. Cooking stale and overmature eggplants might cause the eggplant pieces to absorb significant amount of oil if they are fried. The rubbing of salt on the aubergine cut pieces is meant to reduce their oil absorption when fried, tender and fresh eggplants will not absorb too much oil when fried so the salt rubbing is really not necessary. In any case, if you do rub salt on the eggplant pieces, wash the salt off in running water just before frying the eggplant pieces, allow the pieces to dry and then do the frying. If you are cooking eggplants following a recipe that does not require the eggplant to be fried, the issue of rubbing salt becomes irrelevant.



How To Store Eggplants.

Firstly remember that fresh and tender aubergines are much tastier and also less bitter. These eggplants will absorb less oil when fried. You will also not need to worry about rubbing salt on the eggplant pieces (to reduce oil absorption) if they are tender and fresh. Another good thing about the eggplant is that it is grown and available throughout the year. When you shop for any type of aubergine, buy a quantity that will be utilised in a day or two. Fresh and tender eggplants can be stored for around 3 to 4 days in the compartment of your refrigerator that holds other vegetables. If you have no option but to buy slightly stale or overmatured aubergines, buy sufficient to cook just that meal and try to ensure that none remain.



Green chicken curry with eggplant

The above image shows the very popular Kaeng Khio Waan Thai food dish. This is also called the Thai Green Chicken Curry, and has eggplant as one of it's ingredients. Check out the complete recipe for this Thai food dish at this link ...click


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