Longan is a close relative of the rambutan and lychee. Chinese immigrants brought longan seeds into Far North Queensland. In Chinese medicine they are used to relieve stress, boost the immune system, enrich the blood and increase vigour. Otherwise known as dragon’s eye, Longans are reputed to cause good fortune for all who are lucky enough to enjoy them.
The skin is golden brown, thin and leathery, and peels to reveal a translucent pulp enclosing a single, round, black, shiny seed.
Choose fruits that are firm. To open simply squeeze at the stalk end and the flesh should pop out. Fresh fruit can be stored in refrigerator wrapped in plastic for five to seven days and may be kept a room temperature for two or three days. Longans an also be frozen, or dried.
Longans have a fresh distinctive taste and can be used to “cut the palate” like a sorbet. Their delicious burst of sweet juice, followed by a slightly spicy aftertaste, makes Longans go a long way with ice-cream. For something special, combine with other fruit and a couple of tablespoons of Grand Marnier. The characteristic musky flavour of the longan also complements savoury foods. Add to your favourite Stir-fry.