Yang Farms out of Fresno is a year-round vendor at the Hollywood Farmers Market, offering a wide variety of greens and vegetables. We love their yu choi and baby bok choi and we spied a really early crop of kabocha on their tables recently. But the thing that reins us in every summer is their eggplant selection. They have the small purple egg-shaped Indian and the long and slender, vivid Chinese varieties. But the one we came for this past week was the small, golf ball-shaped Thai eggplant, which George Yang says they'll have through August.
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The Green Thai eggplant is small enough to be cooked whole, which it often is in Thai curries, and is firm enough that it takes a lot of cooking abuse without losing its overall shape. But we also love them in a Spanish style berenjenas en escabeche, pickled whole with lots of pepper and garlic, and served drizzled with a sharp olive oil.
If you do cook with them, a little salt soak is recommended as the tiny fruits are on the bitter side of the eggplant world. Cook with the stems on or off as your aesthetics permit, though we prefer them on as they work well for handles on appetizer plates. Green Thai eggplant are super sponges for flavor, so be generous with your braising liquid.
Choose firm fruit with no bruising or nicked skin. Freshly harvested fruits should have the stems still attached, which is the best way to tell how fresh they are. The stems should be green and firm, not brittle, and with little or no discoloration. Yang Farms is also at the Silver Lake, Gardena, Melrose and Studio City farmers markets.