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Red eggplants are long and cylindrical with a slightly bulbous end tapering off into a point. These fruits can be faintly crooked or straight, and its thin, smooth, and glossy outer skin ranges from maroon to violet. The inner flesh is pale green to white, semi-firm, spongy, and nearly seedless. When cooked, Red eggplants are tender and have a mild flavor with sweet notes and little to no bitterness.
Red eggplants are available year-round.
Red eggplants, botanically classified as Solanum melongena, are a Chinese variety belonging to the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. Cultivated throughout Asia, Red eggplants are commonly found in markets in China and Japan and are known for their thin skins, flavor, and almost seedless consistency.
Red eggplants contain some vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, and anthocyanins, a pigment high in antioxidants that gives the eggplant its deep skin coloring.
Red eggplants are best suited for cooked applications such as stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, and grilling. Their thin, tender flesh does not need to be removed and cooks quickly making it ideal for stir-fries, the most popular preparation method. It can also be sliced, grilled, and served alone as a side dish or used as a meat substitute in main dishes. Red eggplant pairs well with aromatics such as garlic, ginger, and onions, cooking oils such as sesame oil, tamari, soy sauce, and vinegar, meats such as chicken, pork, and duck, and flavorful ingredients such as fermented beans, chilies, mushrooms, chickpeas, lentils, hardy greens, tomatoes, and squashes. Red eggplant will keep up to one week when stored in a cool and dry place.
Eggplants are common in traditional Chinese medicine and are mentioned in the Chinese medicinal record, "Dian Nan Ben Cao," or The Southwest China Materia Medica, which was written by herbalist Lan Mao during the Ming Dynasty. Eggplants are used to help reduce symptoms of intestinal disorders and hemorrhoids. They are also commonly used in the summer to help reduce fever and heat stroke with its "yin," or cooling properties.
Eggplants have been cultivated in India since ancient times and were then spread to China where many varieties such as the Red eggplant are created and grown today. Red eggplants can be found at farmers markets and specialty grocers throughout Asia.