Oriental-type eggplants are primarily slim, tapered or pointed elongated fruits that may remind you somewhat of a skinny, smooth and shiny cucumber. Oriental eggplants are mild, tender-skinned, creamy-fleshed, and quick-cooking eggplants.
The Oriental-type eggplants can be divided into two groups: Chinese eggplants and Japanese eggplants.
Chinese eggplants are lavender-blushed white, amethyst, and red-violet colored. They are delicate and low in seeds. The Chinese eggplant has a purple calyx, or stem cap.
Japanese eggplants are dark violet to inky-purple and are usually heavier and firmer than Chinese eggplants. The stem cap or calyx of the Japanese eggplant is bright green.
Remember both are distinguished by their slim, long look. You might ponder a moment if they aren’t labeled at your farmer’s stand.
Both the Chinese and Japanese eggplants have a sweet skin and flesh and tend to maintain their color when cooked (most eggplants tend to turn some shade of dull grayish brown when cooked).
Oriental eggplants can be cooked all ways but they will keep their form and flavor best when baked. If your recipe calls for eggplant slices even and neat, Oriental cucumbers are just what you are looking for. Another big plus: because Oriental eggplants contain less moisture than their bulbous counterparts, they absorb less cooking oil when cooked.
When you are choosing eggplants at the market be sure to select those that are firm and filled out with shiny skins. When an eggplant loses its gloss its quality deteriorates.
An eggplant with a smaller calyx or stem cap will often have fewer seeds than one with a large calyx. But seeds are rarely a concern with Oriental eggplants.