Longans are new to me, the result of a quick trip to the Asian grocer on the way home from work. Rather than the two things I wanted to come home with, I found jicama, longans, and such incredible young fresh ginger. Oh my!
Longan in Mandarin means “dragon’s eye”. Such beautiful names meanings Chinese words have.
Longans are sold fresh at the end of summer and, interestingly, their availability marks the end of the lychee season. They look a bit like lychees with white flesh, hard brown seed, a thin brown leathery shell that easily peels off, and they grow in clusters in tropical climates. But the flavour, texture and moisture content are completely different. Lychees are fleshy, juicy, and are light tasting, but longans have a thinner, drier flesh that is firm in texture with a honey like flavour, and which is deeply perfumed. Fresh longans are smaller than lychees.
Longan and Green Mango Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing
adapted from a recipe from http://www.comoshambhala.com
2 green mangoes, peeled and julienned
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced
0.25 pomelo, broken into small segments (or use an orange or grapefruit)
½ ripe starfruit, optional, cut lengthwise into long slices, or use a slice of green melon
2 leaves Thai “fish” herb, shredded (optional)
5 cm really young ginger, julienned
1 green apple, peeled and julienned
0.5 red apple, julienned
12 longans or lychees, peeled, seeded and cut in half
28g coriander, Thai Basil, Thai Lemon Basi and /or Mint, leaves removed from stems
2 stalks lemongrass, tops and outer layers removed, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 coriander roots, cleaned, scraped and sliced
2 small hot green chillies
2 shallots, sliced
125ml/½ cup lime juice, strained
1 tablespoon organic Thai palm sugar
Sea salt, to taste
40g roasted cashews, coarsely crushed
1 long red chilli, seeded and cut into long thins strips
To make the dressing, place the garlic, coriander root and pinch of sea salt into a mortar, and pound to a paste with the pestle. Add the shallots and bruise with the pestle, then stir in the lime juice and sugar until dissolved. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl and mix with the dressing.
Place on a beautiful plate. Scatter with crushed cashews and chilli and serve.
recipe notes and alternatives
This recipe features tropical fruits, but feel free to replace them with some Summer stone fruits – peach, peacharine, prune plums, nectarine, melons.