Friday, 20 March 2009


The LONGAN (literally translated as "dragon eye") is a tropical fruit tree – its origin is still disputed but it is said to originate either in southern China or in the area between India and Burma. It is also called guiyuan in Chinese, lengkeng in Indonesia, and mata kucing (literally "cat's eye") in Malaysia. The LONGAN is closely related to the lychee and is similar in growth and fruiting habit. Thailand, China and Taiwan are the main centres of commercial production.

The LONGAN ("dragon eyes") is so named because of the fruit's resemblance to an eyeball when it is shelled (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil/iris). The seed is small, round and hard.

The fruit is edible, and is often used in East Asian soups, snacks, desserts, and sweet-and-sour foods, either fresh or dried, sometimes canned with syrup. Canned LONGANS are very nice (in fact I prefer this to the fresh fruit) and the taste is considered better than canned lychees (I concur). The seeds of fresh LONGAN can be boiled and eaten, with a distinctive nutty flavor.

Dried LONGANS are often used in Chinese cuisine and Chinese sweet dessert soups and drinks. In Chinese food therapy and herbal medicine, it is believed to have an effect on relaxation. In contrast with the fresh fruit, which is juicy and white, the flesh of dried LONGANS is dark brown to almost black. In Chinese medicine the LONGAN, much like the lychee, is considered a "warm" fruit.

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