Feb 28, 2019

Cooking With Lychee Nuts

Lychee Nut New Jersey

The lychee nut is not a nut at all. It is a fruit containing sweet, vibrant flesh. The fruit itself is covered by a rough rind that has a reddish, strawberry-like color. Once peeled, inside holds the slightly translucent, juicy, white flesh of the seed. This is the edible portion.

The lychee fruit has its origins in the southern providences of China. From China, it spread to other Asian countries including India and Indonesia, eventually making its way to Hawaii then cultivating in Florida and finally California in the late 19th Century. In Chinese, lychee translates to “gift of a joyful life,” and its delight derived from the juicy sweetness of this exotic fruit with its aromatic rose-like scent.

In some Chinese districts, the lychee was required as a payment for taxes. However, the Chinese consider the lychee fruit a symbol of love and romance. Chinese legend deems that the Emperor of the Tang Dynasty dispatched royal guards to travel hundreds of miles to locate lychee trees so he could offer the delectable fruit to his concubine.

And why wouldn’t the lychee be a fruit of love? Lychees offer us much in the way of nutrition. Packed with antioxidants, lychees deliver a powerful punch of vitamin C and potassium. Studies conducted at universities in China have concluded flavonoids in the fruit aid in the fight against cancer cells, particularly those of breast cancer. The lychee is part of traditional Chinese medicine.

Lychees can be purchased fresh but spoil quickly. A better alternative is to buy them canned in syrup. If purchased fresh, look for them in pink shells with no cracking. The heavier the fruit, the juicier it is. Store them in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator or freeze them directly in their shell. They are an ingredient in many Asian sauces and are also found dried in Asian food markets.

Add lychees to savory main dishes such as pork or duck, but add them at the end so as to not overcook them. They are also great is desserts and fruit salads. In China, lychees are served to cleanse the palate after a meal.

Try out our recipe of the month for a unique meal to celebrate the Chinese New Year or Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients & Directions

1 fresh pineapple

1 ½ – 2 lbs. boneless, skinned chicken breasts, cubed

¼ cup chestnut flour

2 cups oil

½ cup white vinegar

½ cup pineapple juice

½ orange juice

½ tomato juice

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ fresh lemon

1 tablespoon corn starch

2 tablespoons water

1 8 oz. can lychees

1. Cut pineapple in half. Remove fruit from shell, dice and set aside.

2. Dip chicken in flour.  Deep fry in very hot oil until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

3. Combine vinegar and juices, sugar and salt in saucepan.  Squeeze lemon juice into sauce and place lemon half in pan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove lemon shell.

4. Stir in cornstarch dissolved in water.  Return to boil and cook, stirring until thick and clear, about 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Blend in chicken, pineapple and lychees and heat through.  Serve immediately.