As I was leaving the Salcedo Market yesterday morning I saw the most stunning freshly picked eggplants I have ever seen in Manila. They had two varieties in boxes on the ground… the longer Chinese or Japanese variety that had this spectacularly even light “aubergine” color and these cool fat round eggplants that are closer to the European varieties. What was really impressive about the Asian eggplants was their heft, freshness, consistency of color and their totally unblemished skins (which I hope means they were raised under netting rather than seriously pumped with insecticides!) If you put these against any other eggplant in the market that day you would see a serious difference in quality. My novice guess is that they came from original seeds as well as opposed to seeds from previous plants which tend to mutate and colors to vary over time. I had a post on eggplants earlier which had already shown five different kinds but none of them looked as good as these.
I asked the people manning the stall where these eggplants were from and they said Tagaytay. Still curious at the source, they finally let on that they were grown on someone’s private farm lot at the Leisure Farms development. This is one of several developments where folks buy these million or so peso lots, then grow eggplants and lettuce on them so that they feel like mini-hacienderos with their personal vegetable or kitchen gardens. When they have excess produce, they sell them to the public. Well, this home gardener should be proud, the eggplants were absolutely terrific. At PHP50 a kilo, they were more expensive than other local eggplants but they looked far far better and tasted good too. If he had to put in the cost of money on his lot, I am certain he would have charged more for the eggplants. I got bamboozled into buying western eggplants the other day for PHP120 a kilo and I am kicking myself for not restraining myself. It’s just that rainy season eggplants tend to get really icky.
I figured out an immediate use for the Asian eggplants – they were in a pan just three hours after I purchased them. Recipe to follow in the next post. I am a little beffudled by the rounder and more western eggplants. Maybe I will slice them thin and coat them in tempura batter and deep fry. Or slice them thick and make a small eggplant parmigiana. I don’t want to mix them with the ones I bought the other day so that I can see if they do indeed taste any better! At any rate, these were a great find at the market.