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: