All this writing about my trip to China got me thinking about some of those foods I enjoyed while I was there. One of those is the sweet and tropical tasting lychee fruit. As luck would have it, the commissary carries these Chinese treats. Now, I had enjoyed these prior to China, but they were easy to enjoy while there because they have a tough outside skin that is peeled off, making it one of the only fruits considered safe to eat.
Let me introduce to you the LYCHEE...
They are so tiny and cute. If you look here you can get a good idea of their size.
So, what is a lychee:
The fruit is covered by a leathery rind or pedicarp which is pink to strawberry-red in color and rough in texture. A greenish-yellow variety is not grown in California at present. Fruit shape is oval, heart-shaped or nearly round, 1 to 1-1/2 inches in length. The edible portion or aril is white, translucent, firm and juicy. The flavor is sweet, fragrant and delicious. Inside the aril is a seed that varies considerably in size. The most desirable varieties contain atrophied seeds which are called "chicken tongue". They are very small, up to 1/2 inch in length. Larger seeds vary between 1/2 to 1 inch in length and are plumper than the chicken tongues. There is also a distinction between the lychee that leaks juice when the skin is broken and the "dry and clean" varieties which are more desirable. In some areas lychees tend to be alternate bearers. Fruit splitting is usually caused by fluctuating soil moisture levels.
Lychees have been grown in China for more than 2000 years. Get to the fruit by piercing with a fingernail, peeling back half the skin and squeezing out the fruit. There is a single large seed in the middle.
How to Select
Choose lychees with red shells that are heavy for their size. Brown patches indicate sweeter fruit.
How to Store
Refrigerate lychees in a plastic bag for up to 10 days.
Low in fat, cholesterol free, sodium free, excellent source of vitamin C.
One thing you should know is that these exotic little fruits pack in the vitamin C. Yes I know I just shared that from the fruits and veggies more matters website, but it really doesn't express just how much vitamin C is here. For the most part I eat kiwis for my vitamin C, which is another good source. Many people think citrus when they hear vitamin C, but there are so many other great and exotic sources for the super duper antioxidant vitamin C. Lychees are a fantastic source. I looked up the data on http://www.nutritiondata.com/ and found that 1 piece of fruit contains about 6 calories and 11% of your vitamin C needs for the day. So, in just 9 lychees you basically have 100% of your vitamin C for the day in only 54 calories...and when you finish eating them you will probably feel as if you just went on a vacation.
So, while it has a tough red outer shell, the inside is a delicate white flesh.
But be careful, there is one dark pit inside.
So, next time you are shopping for produce, check out your seclection of exotic fruits and hopefully you can find some lychees to enjoy. If your local grocer doesn't carry them, consider checking for an Asian market in your area.
Also as a result of my week long posts on China, I didn't share any of my good eats from last week, so here is one dinner Ryan and I enjoyed mid-week. I was going for quick and easy, but well balanced and high in flavor. So, here is what I pulled from the shelves. Gotta love the Trader Joe's products that I still have. I am slowly eating through them as I don't want them to ever runn out. So I went with an Indian (boil in a bag!!!) entree, wild and basmati rice pilaf, and in that plastic bag is the leftover fresh broccoli from last weeks cream of broccoli soup.