Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Longan, or Dragon's Eye

In Chinese, the longan is called Long Yan (龍眼), which literally translates to "Dragon's Eye." From the picture below, you can probably see why.

(Oh yes, and this photo was taken on a beach in Kauai, shortly after sunrise. No big deal...)

The longan is related to the lychee. They're the size of jawbreakers, with a brittle, golden brown skin. From the outside, they look a little bit like mini spherical potatoes.

The longan is quite easy to unpeel – all you have to do is apply pressure between your fingers and the skin will crack to reveal the translucent flesh underneath.

The flesh is a little similar to the grape's – it's off-white and translucent (also referred to as "mucilaginous"), but holds together more firmly. Some disagree, but I think it tastes quite similar to the lychee. The flavor is somewhat musky, tropical, and sweet, but less floral than the lychee's.

You can buy these canned from Asian supermarkets, but they'll most likely be drowning in sugary syrup. I think they're best on their own, as is.

And here is the "pupil." The seeds inside are hard and lacquered black.

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