Guide to Korean eggplants

Eggplants, also known as aubergines or brinjal, are a type of vegetable. They come in different sizes, colors, and shapes. The more recognizable eggplants are dark purple and large in size.

They are nutritious and have a high content of fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Their taste is mild with touches of sweetness and bitterness. They are versatile, easy to cook, and absorb the flavor of other ingredients when cooked.

They were cultivated first in Asia. So, it is not a big surprise that this continent has the majority of the world’s production.

Types of eggplants

There are many types of eggplants around the world. Eggplants differ in color, size, and shape; they taste all the same. Their colors range from white, pale green, yellow, and lavender to reddish, dark purplish-black, and multi-color striped.

The most common kinds of eggplants include:

  • Chinese eggplant.
  • American eggplant.
  • Sicilian eggplant.
  • Indian eggplant.
  • Italian eggplant.
  • Japanese eggplant.
  • Little Green eggplant.
  • Rosa Bianca eggplant.
  • Thai eggplant.
  • Korean eggplant.

In Korea, eggplants are called gaji and are long and thin. Their colors are lavender to light purple. Their skin is tender, and the flesh is sweet with a soft texture.

In addition, they can easily absorb oils and flavors in their flesh for use in countless recipes.

Korean eggplant-based dishes

Koreans eat eggplants in several ways. For instance, steamed, pan-fried, stir-fried, and in soups and stews.

The most common way of eating them is in the traditional side dish gaji namul. It is a staple side dish made of steamed eggplants, garlic, and scallions, flavored with soy sauce, fish sauce, hot pepper flakes, and sesame oil.

These types of eggplants are used in the following recipes:

  • Spicy stuffed steamed eggplant (Gochujang gaji-jjim)
  • Cold eggplant (Gaji-naengguk)
  • Korean Eggplant Salad (Gỏi Cà Tím Kiểu Hàn Quốc)
  • Stir-fried eggplants (Gaji bokkeum)
  • Spicy stir-fried eggplants (Gaji bokkeum)
  • Eggplant rolls (Gaji mari)
  • Grilled eggplants and zucchinis (Gaji hobak muchim)

Other ways of enjoying eggplants

Many dishes use eggplant as the main ingredient. Preferred recipes include cutting the vegetables into strips and then steaming them. It is the easiest way to cook eggplants and allows for preserving all the nutrients and enhancing the flavors of all the ingredients.

Another way of cooking eggplants is stuffing. There is the easiest way of preparing vegetables by throwing together many ingredients and baking them. This is a versatile way of cooking, of the varied combinations of fillings. You can make traditional dishes such as a stuffed eggplant parmesan recipe or bold recipes with fruits and seeds.

A perfect match with rice and eggplants

Be that as it may, you want to prepare eggplants or have doubts about what ingredients to use. A combination that cannot be missing is that of eggplants and rice.

Rice and eggplants go together perfectly to create delicious dishes. Its texture and flavor not only provide many nutrients but are tremendously delicious.

The following recipes are good examples of this ideal combination.

Steamed Eggplant (Gaji Namul)

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 2 Korean eggplants.
  • Water to cook eggplants.
  • 1 chopped scallion.
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
  • 1-½ tablespoons of soy sauce.
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
  • ¼ teaspoon of sugar.
  • ½ teaspoon of Korean red chili pepper flakes.
  • 1 teaspoon of roasted sesame seeds.


  1. Cut the eggplants into quarters. Then cut crosswise into about 2-inch pieces.
  2. Use a steamer to cook the eggplants. Put them in the steamer and cook for 5 minutes. Set it aside and let it cool.
  3. In a bowl, add the cooled eggplants, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, red chili pepper flakes, and sesame seeds. Stir all ingredients very well.
  4. Serve with white rice.

Spicy stuffed steamed eggplant (Gochujang gaji-jim)

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 4 Asian eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  • 5 minced garlic cloves.
  • 2 chopped scallions.
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
  • 2 tablespoons of red chili pepper flakes.
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper.
  • 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil.
  • 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.
  • Salt to taste.


  1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise.
  2. Scoop out eggplant flesh with a spoon. Leave enough borders to maintain the shape. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the filling. In a saucepan, add vegetable oil, garlic, and scallions. Stir-fry for 5 minutes.
  4. Add red chili pepper flakes, sugar, soy sauce, ground black pepper, toasted sesame oil, and salt. Combine very well.
  5. Stuff the eggplants with the fillings, and place them in a steamer.
  6. Cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve with rice.