After all, you find them all in a typical tropical climate like Thailand. But in Malaysia or Vietnam they have a different name, and you may find them in Columbia as well? Confusing …
There’s plenty of differences between them. First of all, they taste and look very different. The flesh of a Lychee is sort of lighter, yet juicier than the Longan’s . It is confusing … with both of them the flesh is white and the pit or stone is dark brown – so similar!
But … the peels are not the same, which makes it easy to set them apart from one another. Longan has a pale yellow peel whereas the Lychee’s peel is pink or reddish when it’s ripe, similar to a radish’s color. Also, the Lychee’s peel is a bit spiky, not smooth skin.
We can find them in Asian supermarkets all over the world, but in most cases of course in cans, with the fruit soaking in syrup! It's kind of rare to find them fresh in Asian supermarkets in
San Diego – sometimes I got lucky though! And then … it’s a feast!
But there’s a good use for the canned version and its syrup. You can use the Lychee syrup to make a nice Lychee Martini. Or like me, last summer, you can make a Vodka Lychee Granita. Great for a summer get-together with friends!
Both of these fruits grow really well in Thailand and its neighboring countries. I don’t quite know where exactly they grow best, but I can tell you that the Lychee is very commonly found in the northern part of Thailand. The Longan is more at home in northeastern and northern Thailand. The locals came up with the idea to preserve the Longan. Not only does it taste divine but also it boosts a great nutritional value. So they also decided to bake and dry them, and turned them into a Golden Dried Longan – yummi!
But I haven't told you yet about the best of the best … Mangosteen – the Queen of Fruits! Not because of the crown but because it tastes pretty heavenly, similar to Lychee and a ripe Peach, but oh so much better. You have to taste it to believe it! I was very lucky to find a net of Mangosteens at Lucky Seafood yesterday. Be super careful when you cut its hard peel open. Cut crosswise and make sure not to hit the flesh.
Mmm ... Yum Yum!
Lastly … you’re probably wondering … Queen of Fruit? Who's the King? Well it’s Durian, but we’ll keep that for another blog. What I can tell you already … you love it or you hate it.