4 Ways to Add a Pop of Sweetness with Lychee

Have you ever seen a lychee fruit?

On the outside, the unassuming lychee fruit has a spiky, hard red shell. However, once you get past the exterior, its soft, translucent, juicy flesh, boasts a unique flavour profile. Imagine biting into a sweet explosion followed by a hint of rose, floral musk.

While tropical lychee is a delightful fruit to be enjoyed on its own on a sunny day, there are a myriad of ways to incorporate this refreshing gem in your kitchen. Be it in appetisers, salads, savoury dishes, curries, cocktails or desserts, lychee adds an uplifting twist to your culinary creations. The tangy fruit can even be lightly grilled and served on the skewer with vegetables and meat.

Fresh lychees are best, but using canned lychees in brine or syrup can be a good substitute. Simply drain and rinse canned lychees before using. 

Here are 4 ways to incorporate lychee into your dishes:

Sweet & Sour Pork with Lychee

Serves 4

Recipe & Photo Source

What You’ll Need:

PORK

  • 250 g pork belly
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp potato or corn starch mix with 1 tbsp water
  • 5 tbsp rice flour for coating

VEGETABLES

  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 red onion quartered
  • ⅓ red capsicum chopped
  • ⅓ green capsicum chopped
  • ⅓ yellow capsicum chopped
  • ⅓ cucumber chopped

SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp plum sauce
  • 2 tbsp canned lychee syrup
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 8-10 pieces canned lychee

 

How To Prepare:

  1. Remove skin off pork belly and cut meat into bite sized pieces.
  2. Mix potato/corn starch with water to make into starch flurry and mix with all of the ingredients to season pork belly.
  3. Coat each piece of pork belly in rice flour.
  4. Heat up a pan with hot boiling oil, then deep fry coated pork belly. Work in 2-3 batches if required to ensure you do not overcrowd the pan. Remove when pieces are golden brown. Set aside on draining rack.
  5. If you like really crunchy pork pieces, you may double fry the pork pieces. For this additional step, when sauce is almost done, deep fry pork pieces in hot oil for 1-2 minutes, drain and mix into sauce.
  6. Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil, and saute garlic and onion until fragrant. Add in all other vegetables and saute for 2-3 minutes until 80% cooked. Remove and set aside.
  7. Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour into wok. Bring to boil to thicken sauce.
  8. Return cooked vegetables to the sauce, saute quickly to coat in sauce.
  9. Add lychee pieces, give it a quick stir.
  10. Finally add pork and stir to coat well. Serve immediately with white rice!

BBQ Lychee & Prosciutto

Serves 3

Photo & Recipe Source

What You’ll Need:

  • 12 plump lychees, peeled
  • 75g soft blue cheese, cut into 12 cubes (about 12 tsp each)
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

How To Prepare:

  1. Fill each lychee cavity with a cube of blue cheese. 
  2. Wrap each lychee in a slice of prosciutto and thread onto a cocktail skewer (or toothpick). Liberally spray with oil.
  3. Preheat a greased char-grill or barbecue plate over medium heat. 
  4. Grill or barbecue lychees, turning occasionally, for 2–3 minutes.  
  5. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Lychee Rose Cake

Photo & Recipe Source

What You’ll Need:

Rosewater Cake

  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater
  • ¾ cup boiling water
Rosewater Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons rosewater

Assembly

How To Prepare:

Rosewater Cake

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix all the wet ingredients except for the water.
  2. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then stir in the water. It will be very thin.
  3. Pour into two greased and parchment lined 8” round cake pans and bake at 350F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Rosewater Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. In the heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is hot to the touch.
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until it holds stiff (but not dry) and fluffy peaks.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment. Add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the rosewater until smooth.

Assembly

  1. Drain off the syrup from the lychees. Add the syrup to a small pot and simmer until slightly condensed and thicker (shouldn’t seem too watery).
  2. Roughly chop the lychees.
  3. Using a long serrated knife, trim the domed part of the cake off.
  4. Place a dollop of buttercream in the middle of your serving plate or cake stand, and press one cake layer into it. Drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons of lychee simple syrup over the cake. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top, then pipe a ring of buttercream on top of the cake just inside the edge.
  5. Add the chopped lychees to the center, then cover the lychees with buttercream. Place your last cake layer on top, bottom side facing up. Drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons lychee simple syrup on top.
  6. Scrape all of the buttercream on top of your cake, and using an off-set spatula, gently shove and smooth the buttercream to the edge of the cake and down the sides. Run your spatula or a bench scraper around the edges of the cake to smooth it out.
  7. Decorate as much as you want.

    Lychee Panna Cotta

    Serves 6

    Photo & Recipe Source

    What You’ll Need:

    For the panna cotta:

    • 3 tablespoons (45ml) cold water
    • 3 teaspoons (9g) powdered gelatin
    • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
    • 1 cup (250ml) lychee syrup , from a can of lychees
    • ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar

    For the topping:

    • 250g fresh strawberries , trimmed and cut into quarters
    • ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
    • 100g lychees, fresh or canned, pitted and cut into quarters

    How To Prepare:

    Panna cotta

    1. Pour the cold water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over it and mix well. Leave to soak for 2-3 minutes.
    2. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, lychee syrup, sugar, and gelatin mixture. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and gelatin have completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
    3. Pour the warm panna cotta mixture into the lightly greased ramekins and let cool to room temperature. Cover each with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator to set for a minimum 6 hours or overnight.

    The topping:

    1. In a medium bowl, add the strawberries, sugar and vanilla, and toss to combine. Stir in the lychees. 
    2. Cover the fruit mixture with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until the panna cotta is ready to serve.

    Serving:

    • Store panna cotta in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days. 
    • Top with lychees and strawberries just before serving.

    From its refreshing sweetness to its surprising savoury notes, lychee is a fruit that's versatile that can be used in both desserts and main dishes. So, get creative, experiment, and unlock the delightful potential of this tropical gem!

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