3 unexpected ways to cook with lychees

Let’s be honest, lychees are not the most popular fruit in the bunch. Perhaps it’s due to its leather-like exterior, or the fact that many people don’t know how to eat it. It certainly shouldn’t be because of its flavour, which is bold and juicy.

Since lychees are in season right now, it’s time to get to know them better and discover just how versatile they can be in your cooking.

1. In a cocktail

Lychees pack a flavour punch, making them the perfect fresh ingredient to add to your favourite cocktail. They’re great in a martini, mojito, caprioskas and sangria, just to name a few. Muddle them to release their flavour and make sure you leave their fruity flesh in your concoction for a tasty treat at the bottom of your glass.

2. In a dessert

The sweetness of lychees lend themselves to desserts perfectly, but their match made in heaven is anything with coconut milk. Think panna cottas, parfaits and tapioca puddings. Mangos, watermelon and strawberries also go well with lychees.

3. In a savoury dish

This may surprise you, but lychees make an excellent addition to curries. Their sweet flavour cuts through spicy sauces for a beautifully balanced dish. If you like your curry to be more on the mild side, also add in pineapple and coconut milk to complement the lychees.

Cooking tip: Lychees should only ever be added at the end of your cooking phase to avoid softening the flesh’s texture too much and losing that precious, luscious flavour.

Tip for buying fresh lychees

To know if a lychee is ripe and ready to be eaten, press the skin gently with your thumb. The lychee should give only a little. If it's too soft, it’s probably over-ripe.

The health benefits

While small in size, lychees are big in health benefits. They are full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C which has been found to help the body fight against heart disease, as well as nourish the skin, bones and tissues. Lychees also contain many useful compounds that enhance and strengthen blood circulation.