bitter eggplant

The bitter eggplant

The bitter eggplant is one or several wild eggplant species native to Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Its fruits are green and white on the exterior, and pretty much similar to the Thai Kermit eggplant cultivar or  the yellow-fruit nightshade (Solanum virginianum). However, the yellow-fruit nightshade has purple flowers, but this bitter plant has white flowers.

bitter eggplants
Bitter eggplants

The bitter eggplant variety is known as cà đắng in Vietnamese, which literally means “bitter eggplant”. It is popular in the cuisine of ethnic people in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, especially in Đắk Lắk, KomTum, Gia Lai, Đắk Nông provinces.

The bitter eggplant previously grows  wild throughout the mountainous areas of the Central Highlands. Nowadays, it is grown by in home gardens by the ethnic people as a food crop. The bitter eggplant bears fruits all year round, and its fruits is bigger than the common Vietnamese eggplant (Solanum macrocarpon).

the bitter plant in a home garden
The bitter plant in a home garden

Culinary uses

The bitter eggplant can be eaten raw, pickled or cooked.  The indigenous community of Ede, M’Nong, Gia Rai, Chu Ru… ethnic people can cook the bitter eggplant in many ways: braised with beef or dried fish, cooked in soups, salads, and stir fry dishes…

braised pork with bitter eggplant
Braised pork with bitter eggplant
Slow-cooked beef offal with bitter eggplant
Slow-cooked beef offal with bitter eggplant. The dish is also served with pickled bitter eggplant.
bitter eggplant soup in bamboo
Bitter eggplant soup in bamboo
bitter eggplant salad with dried anchovies
Bitter eggplant salad with dried anchovies
Slow-cooked gelatin with bitter eggplant
Slow-cooked gelatin with bitter eggplant
Smoked wild game soup with bitter eggplant
Smoked wild game soup with bitter eggplant
chicken soup with bitter eggplant and green chili
Spicy chicken soup with bitter eggplant and green chili

 

 

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