American or standard globe eggplant are the biggest, most common, and generally least expensive of all eggplant. They’re teardrop-shaped and range in length from 6 to more than 10 inches. They tend to be less flavorful than other types, but they’re useful for their high flesh-to-skin ratio, which makes for quick chopping into chunks for ratatouille, stews, and dips. Their wider diameter is also a plus when slicing into large cutlets.
Italian eggplant are similar in shape and color to American eggplant, but diminutive in size—only a few inches in diameter and 5 to 8 inches long. Italian eggplant are more delicate and sweeter than their larger cousins, and their smaller size makes them a good choice for stuffing, roasting, and broiling.
Chinese eggplant are easily identified by their pale violet skin and slender, cylindrical shape. They have the most delicate flavor of all the market varieties. Their even contours make them ideal for slicing, and because they cook quickly, they’re good in stir-fries and sautés.
Japanese eggplant are slightly smaller than Chinese eggplant and have the same dark purple skin as the American and Italian varieties. Also quick cooking but not as mild as Chinese eggplant, they’re excellent for grilling and broiling, and they stand up to the assertive flavors of garlic, soy, and ginger.