Common Name: Longan
Vernacular Name: Lungan, Dragon's eye
Botanical Name: Dimocarpus longan
Specimens From: Thailand
Longan, a native fruit to Southern China, is now grown in several Asian countries with Thailand leading the way and also in a few tropical states of the USA. The name, longan, is a Cantonese word (a dialect of Chinese) meaning "Dragon's eye". It is so called because, the translucent white flesh covering the black shiny seed resemblance the eyeball of an oriental dragon.
There are several varieties of longan. Some with very thin, tasteless flesh and hence, unpopular but this improved variety is meaty with thick and musky sweet flesh. Needless to say, it is very popular in South-east Asia, overtaken its bigger cousin (same family), the lychee.
Longan can be additive. The more you eat, the more you want! Just use both your thumb's nail to press the thin shell open. It is sweet and soft but not as juicy as lychee. It is great for snacking when being a couch potato.
Eating longan is believed to reduce fatigue, improve nervous system, improve stomach functioning, treatment for insomnia and several other claims.
For those who prefer it peel for the easy way out, canned longans in heavy syrup can be easily found in Asia.
And for the dried longan, known as "guiyuan" in Chinese Mandarin. The flesh will turn dark brown to black and will shrink, sticking to the seed. It is very popular in Asian's cooking especially in herbal soups and sweet desserts. But you can eat it raw too and it is sticky, chewy and sweet.
The dried longan can also be used for tea or plain drink. It is better to slice apart the dried flesh and discard the seeds, so as to let it fully absorb into the drink.
Fruit: Longan; Dimocarpus longan; Sapindaceae.
Other fruits in the same family: Fijian Longan, Lychee, Pulasan, Rambutan.
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