I love tropical fruits, and Longan just happens to be one of my favorites. The longan belongs to the soapberry family and its origin can be traced back to Southeast Asia.
The Chinese call this fruit dragon’s eye due to the fact that once you remove the outer casing of the longan, its seed surrounded by flesh resembles an eyeball.
You might have seen longan fruits on a hotel menu or at the market and wondered what they taste like. This article will give you all the information you need about longan including the flavor, culinary uses, storage, nutritional benefits, and so much more. Let’s dive in.
Longan fruit taste
The flavor of longan is sweet with a musky and slightly tart undertone. Its flavor is very similar to that of lychee, although it is a little bit bland in comparison. Other than that, the floral aroma of longan is less pronounced compared to that of lychee.
Longan has a gelatinous texture that is similar to that of grapes, but it is chewier in comparison.
Longan is very juicy with transparent flesh. It has a tan-colored shell and a black seed in the middle. Both the seed and shell are inedible and should be discarded.
Compared to fresh longan, dried longan has a less intense flavor.
When the moisture is removed, the flavor profile changes significantly. Dried longan has a chocolate flavor that a lot of people don’t find too pleasing.
Longan is a versatile tropical fruit. Here are a few of its culinary uses.
- Eat longan out of hand
The best way to enjoy longan is to eat it out of hand. It has an amazing taste and you can easily access the tasty flesh. Before eating longan out of hand, it is important that you wash them thoroughly.
Once you have washed off all the dirt, dig your fingers into the fruit until a hole appears. When it does, tear the skin apart. The skin easily pulls away from the flesh.
Pop the longan into your mouth and eat the flesh, but make sure you spit out the seed. If you don’t want to do this, just slice the longan in half, remove the seed, and enjoy.
- Add it to savory dishes
Longans can be added to savory dishes to balance out the salty flavor. You can add longan to stir fry dishes, black bean sauce, or even duck confit on rice. They are also a great addition to soups, specifically Asian soups.
- Add it to sweet dishes
Like most tropical fruits, longan can be added to desserts to enhance their flavor. You can also add longan to fruit salads, juices, and smoothies. Longan can be used to make sorbets and ice cream as well.
Simmer longan in a simple syrup and serve with coconut rice pudding.
Choosing the best longan
If you are buying longan at the market, you need to choose the best ones if you want value for your money. Always check the skin of the fruits and choose the ones that do not have any sign of mold.
You should also feel the fruit and ensure it goes not have a gap between the skin and the flesh inside. If the longan flesh has shrunk, chances are that it has gone bad.
How to store longan
The best way to store the longan is to place the fruits in a plastic bag and storing the bag inside your refrigerator. Just be sure to leave a small opening on the plastic bag.
This way, there would be enough air circulation which will consequently reduce the onset of mold.
When stored in the refrigerator, the skin of the fruits may harden a little bit. However, this will not affect the quality of the fruit. It will remain just as good as you bought it.
If you want longan fruits to last for much longer, you can always freeze them. Frozen longan fruits will maintain their good quality for approximately one year.
Simply place the fruits in an airtight container or plastic bag before placing them in your freezer. Always leave the skin on when freezing longan.
Longan nutritional benefits
Longan is as nutritious as it is tasty. It has been used as one of the ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. Locals in Vietnam use the longan fruit as an anti-venom for snake bites.
Longan seeds and flowerers are packed with antioxidants which are essential for the human body.
The fruit itself is very rich in vitamin C. It is low in fats, carbohydrates, and calories, which makes it an excellent addition to a wide range of diets.
Interesting facts about longan
- Longan fruits thrive in a warm climate. They were originally grown in Southeast Asia, India, and China. Currently, they are grown in several places all over the world including; Hawaii, Florida, and Australia.
- The longan tree grows up to 100 feet in height.
- In Asia, Longan tea is the go-to winter beverage.
- Longan belongs to the same family as the ackee.
- Dried longan of good quality is usually yellow in color, the low-quality ones are much darker in color.
- The binomial name for longan is Dimocarpus longan. Some people call it lungan.
- Longan seeds can be used as hair shampoo.
The description of the flavor of longan may slightly vary depending on who you ask. The different varieties of longan tend to have slightly different flavors and textures. The freshness and ripeness of longan also significantly impact the flavor.
Generally, longan is sweet with a musky undertone. If you have tasted lychee before, you’ll realize that the flavor is very similar.
A few people find longan bland and underwhelming compared to rambutan and lychee. I personally prefer lychee to longan.
If you have been debating about whether you should try longan, my suggestion is that you should. It does not have any intense flavors, so it is unlikely that you will find it unpleasant. Next time you see them at the market or on a restaurant menu, try them and let me know if you like them.