Saturday, February 14, 2009

Longans / Dragon Eyes


Don't let the frightening name intimidate you from sampling longans, an exotic and succulent fruit, which translates as "dragon eyes" in Chinese and other various Asian languages. These juicy orbs are widely available in Asian markets during the harvest season, and almost always available canned (similar to peaches, pineapple, fruit cocktail, and mandarin oranges), but be forewarned, these "dragon eyes" are mighty expensive.

Dragon eyes, are so named because of their unique appearance, for they look as though they are large optical organs taken from a fire-breathing reptile that existed in the Medieval times. A longan is rotund with milky flesh and a shiny black stone pit within. The fruit flesh is thus analogous to the whites of a dragon's eye and fruit pit is a parallel to the dark irises centered on the eye. Additionally, in Vietnam, the dust-colored rind is compared to the skin of a toad.

Odd appearance aside, just as lychee fruits, the texture of the longan mirrors that of a firm peeled grape. However, dissimilar from lychee fruits, longans possess less of a coconut aroma. Instead, it has more of a deep, nutty flavor with undertones of an aged cognac or the peppery fragrance of nutmeg. Furthermore, lychees are far more white and fleshy and not as translucent and delicate as longans.

I hope that this interesting fruit has piqued has your interest for a taste! For more posts on exotic or interesting fruit, check out the following posts:

18 comments:

  1. They look indeed dreadful but I will give them a try! If they are delicious, it is worth a try, thanks!

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  2. I love these fruits! Yes, it's true that they look quite strange...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. mmmmm i LOVE that stuff. Great picture

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  4. They are delicious and worth (many) tries Sophie!

    Yes, they look scary, but are wonderful Rosa's Yummy Yums!

    I love that stuff too Alex, thanks!

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  5. PE, I love the foodlore! It does indeed look like a reptilian orb, that black pit in the center is so cool.

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  6. Hi PE - Better keep this post away from the Missus, or I'll be doing some shopping otmorrow!

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  7. Look quite scary, but I bet they are wonderful! I would try one, bet they are tasty!

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  8. P.E., Like the dragon fruit, I have never heard of dragon eyes.
    They would be perfect food at a Halloween party for grossing out the kids. But I suppose the cost would be a barrier! Too bad.
    Now I am wondering what they taste like.

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  9. Interesting! I've never had these. Thanks for the info.

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  10. Longans and lychees are my favourite. The Thai longans are deliciously juicy and huge! The local (Malaysian) versions are called "mata kuching" is much smaller which literally means "cats eyes".

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  12. That's such a perfect shot of the longan! It actually looked like an eyeball!

    Growing up I would go between lychee and longan. (Luckily in Hawaii we got lychee grown locally.) Sometimes I loved the sweetness of the lychee over the longan and sometimes I loved the sophisticated subtle flavor of the longan over the overly sweet lychee. Either way, it was nice having them fresh.

    Too bad longans aren't in season around Halloween because they would be the perfect party food!

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  13. If this is the food of fairy tales, then I want to try more Foodhoe!

    I know you'll be doing some shopping for yourself KirkK, and these dragon eyes will be on your list!

    I do hope you try one sometime Donna-FFW!

    Melinda, you will be pleasantly surprised, they are very juicy and very delicious!

    Check out your Asian supermarket for these fruits LisaIsCooking!

    Oooh, I would love to try the Malaysian version of mata kuching Family First!

    Thanks Wikiplugs.

    I wonder how come longans aren't grown in Hawaii Chef Ben. I would expect lychees and longans to grow in the same areas (since they are so similar), but I heard that longans are actually far more rare.

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  14. They really look like "eyes" in your photo! :O

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  15. I love "staring" and the gorgeousness of those eyes Tigerfish!

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  16. I always thought longans are just longans, and dragon eyes are these rambutans because they look more like the chinese dragons to me, being all red and spiky: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&q=chom+chom&btnG=Search+Images but apparently I'm wrong. Speaking of longans and lychees, I thought this fruit would be a good addition to your list of exotic fruits. Rambutans are so gorgeous and sweet, a little bit less juicy than longans, and I think slightly more mild in taste. One of my all time favorite fruits. With so many exotic tropical fruits available, I wonder if that's why most Vietnamese eat them regularly like desert instead of having many cakes and candies like Americans. The collection of fruits at the groceries here in the US are just tragic

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  17. Mmmm, delicious, thank you so much for suggesting rambutans, I will happily feature those next! I love your description Anonymous, and I agree, the selection of fruit in Vietnam really is unrivaled!

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  18. Longans are delicious, everyone reading this should absolutely give them a try!

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