Until exactly two years ago, I had never before tasted the heavenly delight that is the lychee. Growing up in a hot desert climate meant we rarely got exotic tropical fruit or delicate ones like fresh berries…but it isn’t ALL that bad, because what we DID get more than compensated for what we didn’t. I was happily oblivious to these little sweet gifts of nature.
When I did, however, taste a fresh lychee for the first time, it was a revelation. I was on my way home from culinary school here in Sydney, beyond tired and very hungry, and as I often did, I decided to pass by the big Paddy’s market that was only a short walk away to buy some goodies for the weekend ahead. This market is a MASSIVE covered affair, filled with stalls of everything you could possibly think of; from tacky Aussie souvenirs to unfamiliar Asian foods and cheap electronics.
I headed straight for the fruit and vegetable section, and was walking around in a daze of exhaustion and aimlessness, when a very loud and smiling Asian lady caught my attention with her “lychee! lychee! you try!”. She was, apparently, offering me a lychee to try, and even though I’d never seen one before and was slightly apprehensive and unsure how exactly to go about eating it, I took it from her and thanked her.
I fiddled around with it a bit, and she instructed me to “peel, peel!”. I obliged and popped the whole pale, fleshy globe that was revealed underneath the spiky and tough pink outer shell into my mouth. There was an instant burst of juicy sweetness, and I looked up at the cheerful vendor with wide eyes and said “OHMYGOD! Give me two kilos!!”. That was the start of my obsession with these delicious little fruit which are, as far as I’m concerned, what grows on the trees in heaven.
They are, as I’ve mentioned, INCREDIBLY sweet. I have never since cracked open a lychee that wasn’t. They are hard to describe, but this is the best I’ve managed to come up with: imagine if a grape and a berry met on a tropical island full of coconuts and flowers and had an affair, lychees would be their love child.
Whenever I buy them, I rarely have time to even contemplate making anything with them before they are all long gone, but this time I was determined to try out an idea that was brewing in my head, and that I KNEW would be sensational, so I bought WAY more than I normally do.
It is as simple as a recipe can be, although it does require a little bit of effort in the form of peeling and deseeding the lychees
without eating them all, but the result was even better than I had imagined it would be. All I did was blend the frozen flesh of the lychees with a little coconut water and added a teaspoon of rose water to highlight the existing floral notes in the fruit. Absolutely NO sugar is needed, which is always a wonderful bonus. I also added a few cheeky tablespoons of pomegranate juice to make the slushie a little pinker than it naturally is, and I just LOVE the blushing rose hue that I ended up with! A couple of raspberries or a strawberry would probably do the same trick, although it is merely a matter of aesthetic, not essential at all.
As for those of you who have an aversion to rose flavoured things (I know quite a few who do), you may omit it completely, or replace it with a scant grating of fresh ginger for a little zing if you are so inclined!
- • 2 cups peeled and deseeded fresh lychees*
- • a squeeze of fresh lemon/lime juice
- • 2-3 raspberries or 1-2 tbsp. pomegranate juice, optional (for a natural pink colour)
- • 1 tsp. rose water**
- • Coconut water as needed (unsweetened)
- Place the peeled and deseeded lychees into a ziplock bag or airtight container and place in the freezer until completely frozen.
- Place the frozen lychees into a blender with the lemon/lime juice, raspberries/pomegranate juice (if using) and rose water. Start blending on high and as you blend, start adding coconut water through the top of the blender little by little, until the mixture is thick and icy, thick enough to scoop and eat with a spoon and just pourable.
- Pour into glasses and serve immediately with straws and spoons!
** If you are not a fan of rose flavour, you could omit the rose water, or substitute with a scant grating of fresh ginger if you like.