What are Lychees?… and a Sorbet recipe

by Melissa on July 11, 2012

Recently, lychees have been a popular topic of conversation when we’ve gone out to meals with friends. It may just be coincidence, or it may be the hot weather that has many people thinking about refreshing, juicy fruit.

When I think of lychees, my mind immediately flies back to memories of my family gathered around the dining table at my uncle’s house in Miaoli, Taiwan with a big pile of fresh lychees in the middle of the table. This was where I had my first fresh lychee.

Plentiful, perfectly ripe lychees in the countryside of Taiwan. It’s hard to try and compare that lychee experience to anything that I attempt to recreate there in the States, but I can try.

The lychee is native to southeast Asia, specifically southern China and Taiwan, though these days it is grown in many parts of the world. It tastes somewhat like a cross between a pear and a grape, with a slightly musky overtone.

Fresh lychees can be found in Asian grocery stores, and perhaps other specialty grocery stores, during the summer. You can find the canned version more easily in the same stores year-round. But, be aware that the canned lychees do lose some of their taste and should be used in recipes. If you want to eat a lychee, search for the fresh ones.

This simple, refreshing sorbet recipe combines two of my favorite Asian flavors: lychee and ginger.

Lychee Ginger Sorbet (serves 4)
2 cans lychee (400g each)
2 teaspoon sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
Lime for garnish (optional)

Let’s Cook!
Drain the syrup from the two cans of lychees into a small pan or pot. Bring the syrup to a boil, then add the sugar. Reduce heat to medium high and stir the syrup mixture until the sugar is dissolved.

In a blender or food processor, blend the lychees, syrup and ginger until well blended and smooth. Pour into a container with lid and freeze for about 6 hours to overnight.

Serve in scoops, garnished with a lime slice if desired.

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