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Thai Eggplant: A Popular Thai Food Ingredient

Updated on February 7, 2017

This golf ball look-alike is one of the most famous Thai food ingredients. Thai people eat them just about as often as Americans eat potatoes. Unlike other eggplants, the Thai eggplant can be eaten raw, usually with spicy dips. Some people call it "round eggplant" but in Thailand, we just know it as "ma keua praw." Ever since I moved to California, I haven't got to enjoy my beloved Thai eggplants very often at all. Even big Asian grocery stores don't always have them. Yet, last Saturday was my lucky day; I found them and brought home a bunch. Sorry I won't let you get your hands on any of these, but I'm happy to share my knowledge about them and teach you how to select, store, and cook them properly.

Description

On average, the Thai eggplant is about 1.5 inches in diameter, looking pretty similar to a golf ball with a stem. The color can be medium green, pale green, or white with green stripes. What makes it unique is the crunchy texture and mild flavor. That's why it can be enjoyed raw without removing the skin. Typically, this veggie has a tiny bit of a bitter taste, but the bitterness could become stronger when the plant is over-matured. As for the aroma, they have a very neutral smell when raw and develop a little earthy scent when cooked. Believe it or not, although eggplants are generally used and regarded as vegetables, they are biologically classified as fruits! Well, I don't care what plant biologists say, I will always see these as veggies. I just can't help it. Even at a supermarket, we don't usually find eggplants right next to apples and grapes, do we?

Buying, Selection, and Storage

In Thailand, these are a common food ingredient, but here in the U.S., they're very unusual vegetables to eat (or "fruits" as plant biologists would say!). Mainstream supermarkets don't usually have them. Your best bet is to look for them in an Asian grocery store. Sometimes you may find them in a farmers' market as well, but you'll have to look for a stall that sells Asian vegetables.

The younger and fresher the eggplants are, the better they taste. As I've said earlier, over-matured eggplants usually have a more bitter flavor. Plus, they tend to look too brown and unappetizing on the inside. To make sure you select the freshest ingredients, take a close look at the stems. They should be green rather than brown and firmly attached to the eggplants. Then check the firmness and color of the eggplants. Select only the ones that are very firm and don't look yellowish.

The best way to store these delicious things is to keep them in a bottom compartment of your refrigerator. Fresh eggplants can be stored up to a week. However, if you have no choice but to buy slightly over-matured eggplants, you should plan to use them within 3 days.

Using Thai Eggplants in Dishes

  • Eat Them Raw - Eating raw round eggplants with spicy dips is the easiest way to enjoy them. Just rinse them, remove the stems, and either slice or cut them into small wedges. Then get ready for an eggplant feast!
  • Curry Them - The Thai eggplant is a common ingredient in green and red curry. There's no need to remove the skin at all. In fact, the skin of these veggies can lend a very interesting texture to a curry dish. What I particularly love about them is that they really absorb the flavor and aroma of the other ingredients they're being cooked with. They take quite some time to become tender, though, so you'd better slice them thin if you want a quick meal.
  • Add Them to a Stir-Fry Dish - Thai people use these round eggplants in stir-fries a lot, but not just any stir-fry dishes. For some reason, they're only used in spicy stir-fries. You can try stir-frying Thai eggplants with some meat, basil leaves and red or green curry paste. Start by sauteing some minced garlic with some curry paste. Put the eggplants into the hot skillet the same time as the meat or right after, then cook until they're very tender. Add the basil leaves and some salt or fish sauce at the end, then just toss together quickly. This delicious dish can be done in just about 20 minutes!

© 2011 Om Paramapoonya

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  • profile image

    marellen 5 years ago

    Of course never heard or seen these. They remained me of a tomato before you open them up....I'm glad you found them.....Enjoy!!!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image
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    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    Yeah, they look like green tomatoes a little bit. I did have a yummy eggplant feast. Thanks so much for dropping by. :)

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

    I think that I have seen some white ones in the past but will definitely keep my eye out for these Thai eggplants in the grocery stores and will try them if I see them again. Have never tried these but love eggplant. Would never have known that they are good raw except for this hub. Voted useful and up!

  • rsusan profile image

    Rika Susan 5 years ago from South Africa

    Always learn something new here. Thanks Om! I have never seen Thai eggplants before.

  • Cardisa profile image

    Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

    You what I like about your hubs OM, they are never boring!

    I agree with about the eggplant as veges. The same with pumpkin and tomatoes...tomatoes not too bad as a fruit because you can enjoy it that way, but there is no way I would consider pumpkin a fruit!

    I have heard of this eggplant..my recent former boss was from Malaysia..every time I cooked the regular western eggplant she would say how much she missed the other one.

  • randomcreative profile image

    Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    I'd never heard of them! I love Thai food, though. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

    No way Jose - that looks like a tomatillo don't ya think? Great information - I never have heard of them~ Will definitely have to try them as I love to do all kinds of Asian and Thai dishes - I just don't combine them with my cakes~

  • Truckstop Sally profile image

    Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

    Yes, akirchner -- they do look like tomatillos (without the paper-y covering)! I occasionaly buy eggplant - the common larger variety, and I never know what to do with it. My current recipe is to cut in half, score the insides, brown in skillet . . . remove to pan (hold), cook tomatoe mixture (herbs, etc) . . and then top eggplant with tomato and feta cheese and run under the broiler.

  • chspublish profile image

    chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

    Love the the ideas with this 'veggie'. For me this is a very unusual plant and seems so much more inviting than what might be deemed the usual aubergine.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    This is an interesting hub as I have not seen these type of egg plants before. I will look in the stores to see if I can find some. I usually love all vegetables so these look interesting.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image
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    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    @Peggy W - Thanks for the read, Peggy! I encourage you to try them raw. These are really different from all other eggplants I've ever had. :)

    @rsusan - My pleasure! :)

    @Cardisa - I totally understand your former boss. It's not that I don't like vegetables here. There're plenty of delicious veggies in California, but sometimes I just feel like nothing tastes as comforting as the foods from my home country. :)

    @randomcreative - You're welcome! Glad you like Thai food. :)

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image
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    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    @akirchner - Yep, they look pretty similar to tomatillos. Look for them next time you go to an Asian store. Maybe you should put them in your cake! There're carrot cakes. Why not eggplant cakes? hehehe

    @Truckstop Sally - Your recipe sounds great and simple. You can use Thai eggplants in that recipe as well. They take a little longer to cook than regular eggplants, though.

    @chspublish - Unusual and Inviting indeed! I hope you'll find them at your local Asian market.

    @Pamela - Thanks for dropping by, Pam. Glad you want to try Thai eggplants. :)

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

    I've NEVER heard of Thai eggplants before. Guess I'll have to give 'em a try!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image
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    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    Yeah, try them! These eggplants are awesome. :)

  • manthy profile image

    Mark 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

    I eat eggplant all the time, I love it

    Hey Follow me back please.

    Thanks

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image
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    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    Ok! Thanks for dropping by.

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Om, I've never hear or seen this type of eggplant. I love the regular purple one. I also had no idea they were actually a fruit. Great information.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image
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    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    Hi, KoffeeKlatch. I like the regular purple eggplant as well, but the little Thai eggplant has always been my favorite. Thanks so much for dropping by. :)

  • profile image

    mehklaw 5 years ago

    that is look cool but ever i like but i miss that food befor i want in the thailand i like that one but not really okay ^_^

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