Japanese eggplant is a long, slim type with thin skin, minimal seeds, and a delicate flavor. The specific variety that was grown for us by Stoneledge Farm is called Orient Express, which is renowned for being one of the most dependable Japanese eggplants.
Tender and quick cooking, Japanese eggplant is a great starter eggplant. This fruit (did you know eggplant is a botanical fruit?) is one of the best eggplant varieties for grilling. Check out these NY Times grill tips, with variations for all styles (they really report on everything…). Also, we’re throwing a funky recipe into the mix, one inspired by Filipino cuisine: Eggplant Slices Dipped in Egg.
In case you decide to play Trivial Pursuit Farmer Edition (not a real thing… yet), here’s some eggplant background: Historical documents and genetic data have shown that eggplants were first domesticated in Asia, somewhere in the region of China and India. It’s only recently that we’ve been able to pinpoint the origin of most of the wild species that are related to the cultivated eggplant. We were surprised to learn that many of them came from the savannas of Africa.