|Different varieties of eggplant*|
What seasoned cooks view with admiration and awe, is no doubt a source of anxiety and confusion for those starting out in the kitchen or new to eggplant cookery. To make matters worse, any specific type of eggplant may be called different names depending on where you buy it!
Have no fear!
The key to eggplant is to get the right shape for the recipe that you're making--regardless of color.
This is because those of the same shape tend to have the most similar taste, texture, and cooking methods. There are certainly subtle flavor differences between the varieties, however, a dish will generally turn out fine if you substitute a similar shape--but different size or color--eggplant variety.
Note: an exception is the small, round, green, Thai eggplant. This one is more crisp and has more small, pronounced seeds than the other varieties and is best not substituted.
The following is a home version of Thai Basil Eggplant--a dish you can find in many Thai restaurants. Don't be confused by the name. "Thai" refers to the type of basil used, NOT the type of eggplant. The best eggplants to use for this dish are the long, slender types which are often referred to as Chinese, Filipino, or Japanese eggplants. However, they go by many other names as well.
4. Reduce heat to medium. Stir cornstarch mixture and then stir the mixture into the pan. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat and stir in Thai basil.
|What a roll cut vegetable looks like (example: roll cut carrot)*|
**Roll-cut means to cut in irregular pieces, generally 1-2 inches in size. This is done by cutting on a bias, rolling the vegetable 90 degrees, and cutting on a bias through the middle of the previous cut. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be perfect. The goal is just to have more edges that if you'd sliced the vegetable because this will make the pieces less likely to stick to the side of the pan while cooking.
|Left=Sweet (aka. Italian) Basil, Right=Thai basil*|
***Thai basil looks similar to the sweet, Italian basil that you see in the grocery store, but you can tell them apart because the stems of Thai basil are purple (or at least partially purple) and the leaves are less shiny and rounded than sweet basil. The flavor of Thai basil also has a slight licorice or anise flavor and is more sharp, pronounced than sweet basil.