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Hairy eggplants are small and round, approximately 1-2 centimeters in diameter. The tiny eggplant's outer skin is initially green when immature, but then ripens to a yellow or orange and is covered in a fine layer of prickly hair. The inner pulp has many edible seeds and is also yellow or orange. Hairy eggplants are tangy and have a tropical, floral taste with a crunchy bite. Hairy eggplants grow in small clusters on a stout, vining perennial bush that reaches heights of just over one meter. The stems, leaves, and branches are also hairy, much like the fruit's outer skin.
Hairy eggplants are available year-round.
Hairy eggplants, botanically classified as Solanum stramonifolium, are members of the Solanaceae, or Nightshade family. Also known as the Sour eggplant in English, Hairy eggplants are a tropical Southeast Asian native that has a number of names in other languages including Coconilla, Bura-Bura, Bolo maka, Cocochat, Pupu, Tupido, Pimpla, and Tupirito. The small hairy fruits are sometimes seen in markets cleaned of their spiny exterior or even as a frozen product in ethnic grocery stores and are favored for their sweet and sour passionfruit-like flavor. The plants have also become prolific in everyday front-yard gardens, and because of its popularity, new varieties of Hairy eggplant have been developed that have thorn free vines and leaves.
Hairy eggplants contain vitamin C, fiber, and some potassium and manganese.
Hairy eggplants can be consumed in both raw and cooked applications. The thin exterior skin is edible once the hairy layer is shaved off and they are popularly eaten raw as an appetizer or snack. Many recipes may call just for the juicy, seedy pulp to add a touch of piquant sweet and sourness in sauces and curries. The fruit can be sliced in half and squeezed to release the inner pulp. Hairy eggplant is often used as a finishing condiment and paired with nam prik kapi, which is a Thai chili sauce made with shrimp paste and lime. Its sweet and sour flavor profile also compliments curries rich in coconut milk or a simple plate of rice. Hairy eggplants will keep up to a week when stored in the refrigerator.
Hairy eggplants are medicinally used in Asia and South America to provide relief for a variety of issues. In Suriname, the Hairy eggplant is used to help stimulate the release of urine and to calm symptoms of splenic trouble. In the Philippines, the leaves of the hairy eggplant are used to help reduce swelling and body pains.
Origins of the Hairy eggplant have been traced to the West Indies and has been naturalized throughout most of Southeast Asia. Today, Hairy eggplants are available at farmers markets, home gardens, and specialty grocers in Asia, South America, and the United States.
Recipes that include Hairy Eggplant. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Thai Food Master||Naam Phrik Lohng Reuua|
|Eating Asia||Hairy Eggplant Condiment|