The lychee, Litchi chinensis, is a very unique fruit native to China. Lychee are generally eaten fresh due to their unique outer shell, which is removed to reveal a soft white pulp with a delicate and sweet flavor. Lychee have been cultivated since about 1000 AD, when it was used as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. There are two main variations of lychee, the rambutan and the longan. Rambutan lychee are bright red with little spikes, and longan lychee are more orange color and smooth on the outside. My favorite recipe that includes lychee is my Pineapple and Lychee Granita.
Looking at the nutrition of the lychee, they are mostly carbohydrate and water, with very minimal fat and protein per 100g. Lychee’s big nutritional feature is vitamin C, with over 85% of your RDV in 100g of lychee! Plus, lychee have a moderate amount of phytochemicals, especially with polyphenols.
Lychee are still lesser-known in the United States and are not produced here. You’re most likely to be able to find them at your local Asian market, or you can order fresh lychee online on Amazon (both the rabutan or the longan varieties are available).