What is it?
It’s a fruit which is used as a vegetable. It comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours, ranging from the large, glossy, almost-black purple example above to the ‘pea aubergine’ which is popular in Thailand. The pea aubergine looks like a green pea, which in Britain is sometimes used as a substitute for pea aubergines if they’re hard to source. The Thais also use a variety commonly known as ‘golf ball’ aubergines – for obvious reasons.
Aubergines are widely used in Mediterranean cookery in dishes such as baba ganoush, ratatouille and moussaka.
Traditionally, aubergines were salted prior to cooking to remove the bitterness. However, it’s not necessary today as modern varieties have had the bitterness bred out of them. That said even modern aubergines can become bitter with age, so if you’re forced to use an old aubergine, then you probably should salt it first. The exception to the ‘don’t salt it’ rule is if you’re going to fry the aubergines in oil. Aubergines cooked in such a way will be like a sponge and soak up a huge amount of oil – salting helps to prevent this.
Yottam Ottelenghi’s Baba Ganoush
Jamie Oliver’s Classic Ratatouille
The Guardian – How to cook perfect moussaka
Not Delia’s Thai Green Curry With Pork (or Chicken)