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Longan, translated literally as “dragon eye” because it resembles an eyeball when its fruit is shelled (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil/iris). The seed is small, round and hard, and of an enamel-like, lacquered black. The fully ripened, freshly harvested shell is bark-like, thin, and firm, making the fruit easy to shell by squeezing the fruit out as if one is “cracking” a sunflower seed. When the shell has more moisture content and is more tender, the fruit becomes less convenient to shell.
The edible longan fruit is juicy, succulent and very sweet, and can be eaten fresh or use it fresh or in its dried forms in soups, desserts and snacks.
Typically served as a chilling dessert to quench thirst, longan is served at any time of the day as a relaxing drink or after meals as dessert. While there are different methods of cooking longan, dates, gingko nuts and snow fungus are commonly featured in the recipes. The “longan tong sui”, which means “sugar water,” is a popular dessert which can be easilly prepared at home.