South Africa litchis are available from October to March, with production peaking in the height of summer over November and January. Litchis are a source of vitamin C and they’re naturally free from saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Litchis are also a key ingredient in a range of sweet and savoury dishes, due to their great taste and versatile nature. This is no surprise given that litchis have been around for centuries and played an interesting role in the ancient folklore, Asian medicine and recent history.
Starters and Soups
CHILLED LITCHI & LETTUCE SOUP
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 large spring onions, washed and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 675g litchis, peeled and stoned
- 2 lettuce, washed and chopped (preferably Cos or Iceberg)
- Large handful of freshly chopped mint
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 250ml cream
- 4 tablespoons thick cream
- Fresh mint sprigs
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the spring onions, garlic, and gently cook for 5-7 minutes or until the spring onions are soft but not brown. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Add the litchis, bring back to the boil and reduce to simmering point. Stir in the lettuce and mint.
Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the litchis are just tender. Allow the soup to cool and then blend in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a large bowl, add cream, cover and chill for four hours or overnight.
To serve, spoon the soup into chilled soup bowls. Spoon a tablespoon of cream into the soup and top with a sprig of mint before serving.
LITCHI, PAWPAW, AVOCADO & ROCKET SALAD, WITH CHAR GRILLED LIMES, AND A SWEET CHILLI DRESSING
- large pawpaw, sliced
- 12 litchis, peeled & pitted
- 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
- 50 g rocket
- 2 limes, quartered
- 1 chilli to garnish
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 50 ml lime juice
- 100 ml sweet chilli sauce
- 30 g mint leaves chopped
- Arrange the salad on a platter.
- Combine the dressing ingredients and mix well.
Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately
CUCUMBER AND LYCHEE SOUP
- 1 large English cucumber.
- 1 can Lichis, drained and rinsed.
- 1/2 cup toasted almond slivers.
- 4 larger mint sprigs.
- 10 sprigs of cilantro.
- 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt.
- salt and pepper.
Blend all ingredients and chill.
MELON AND LITCHI STARTER
- 1 melon.
- 250g ham.
- 200g feta cheese.
- 410g litchis.
- 250ml sour cream.
- 250ml natural yoghurt.
- 125ml mayonnaise.
- Lemon pepper.
Peel the melon and remove the pips. Slice into 8 slices. Cube the ham and feta cheese, and quarter the litchis. Combine the sour cream, natural yoghurt and mayonnaise. Season with dill and lemon pepper. Place a slice of melon on a side plate. Pour a little sauce over the centre of the melon and on the plate. Arrange the ham and cheese squares as well as the litchi quarters on the sauce.
DUCK & LITCHI THAI CURRY
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 duck breasts or 600g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of excess fat
- 114g can Thai red curry paste
- 250ml chicken stock
- 450g mixed stir-fry veggies (cabbage, carrots, bamboo shoots, spring onions etc.)
- 300g peeled and stoned litchis
- 15ml fish sauce
- 15ml brown sugar
- 140ml can coconut milk
- 1/3 cup basil leaves
- steamed jasmine rice, to serve
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Cook the duck or chicken, in batches, for 1 to 2 minutes each side or until golden – set aside.
- With the remaining oil fry the veggies briefly and set aside with the duck.
- Reduce the heat to low, and add curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. or until aromatic.
- Add stock and stir until curry paste has dissolved.
- Add the litchis, vegetables and duck and stir gently to combine.
- Combine the fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk in a jug and stir into curry.
- Cook for 5 minutes and stir in basil.
Spoon curry over rice and serve.
LITCHI & PRAWN/CHICKEN CRYSTAL SPRING ROLLS
Spring rolls ingredients:
- 100 g vermicelli rice
- 8 rice wrappers
- 1 1/3 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 lettuce leaves, chopped
- 10 pitted litchis chopped
- 8 large cooked prawns – peeled, deveined, cut in half lengthways Or
- 2 cooked chicken breasts
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic chilli sauce
- Boil vermicelli rice for 3 to 5 minutes, or until al dente, drain.
- Fill a large bowl with warm water and dip one rice wrapper into the hot water for 1 second to soften
- Lay the wrapper flat.
- In a row across the centre of the wrapper, place 2 prawns halves, a handful of vermicelli, basil, mint, cilantro, lettuce, and chopped litchi’s, leaving about 5 cm’s uncovered on each side.
- Fold uncovered sides inward, and then tightly roll the wrapper, beginning at the end with the lettuce.
- Repeat with remaining ingredients.
- In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, water, lime juice, garlic, sugar and chilli sauce.
- In another small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce and peanuts.
Serve rolled spring rolls with the fish sauce and hoisin sauce mixtures.
TERIYAKI PORK FILLET WITH GLAZED LITCHIS
- 600 g boneless pork fillet
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup soya sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
- Salt and Pepper
Glazed litchi ingredients:
- 2 cups whole or chopped litchis (fresh or canned)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Marinate pork fillet for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 4 hours
- Heat small amount of oil in large frying pan over medium heat.
- Add pork fillet and cook 10 minutes or until no longer pink in the centre, turning after 4 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove pork; keep warm.
- Add litchis, sugar and cinnamon to pan.
- Reduce heat to low, cook for 5 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.
Add remaining marinade to the pan, heat through for 2 minutes and serve over pork fillet.
HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN WITH LITCHI PUREE
- ½ cup reduced fat chicken broth.
- ½ cup fresh or canned litchis.
- 1 Tbsp water.
- 4 Tbsp Dijon mustard.
- 1 Tbsp litchi honey.
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 pieces.
- 1 tsp canola oil.
In a 1-quart saucepan, bring the broth and litchis to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce is reduced by about half. Let cool slightly.
Process the berry mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth; return the mixture to the pan. Add water to berry mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the litchi puree thickens, about 1 minute. Cover and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the mustard and honey. Coat the chicken evenly on both sides with the mustard mixture.
In a non-stick skillet, warm the oil over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it is well browned on both sides and no longer pink. Serve with the litchi puree.
PORK CHOPS WITH GLAZED LITCHIS
- tablespoon vegetable oil.
- 4 boneless pork chops,
- 1/4 inch thick.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage.
- Salt and Pepper.
- 2 cups whole or chopped litchis (fresh preferably or canned)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops; sprinkle with sage.
Cook 8 minutes or until no longer pink in the centre, turning after 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove pork chops from skillet; keep warm.
Add litchis, sugar and cinnamon to skillet. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over pork chops.
JELLIED LITCHI PARFAITS
- 5 cups of fresh litchis or enough to make two cups of puree.
- 2 teaspoons unflavoured gelatine powder.
- Juice of one lemon.
- 3 cups of plain yogurt. Preferably organic.
- 1 recipe of litchi jelly.
- 1 cup of fresh diced mangoes. Preferably a firm non-fibrous mango.
Puree the peeled and seeded litchis in a food processor. Strain the puree through a sieve into the top of a double boiler or into a large steel bowl. Sprinkle the gelatine over the melon puree. When the gelatine has softened set the mixture over a pot or simmering water and stir until the gelatine has completely dissolved and the mixture registers 180 ºC on a candy thermometer. Stir in the lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for several hours until set.
Carefully pour 2 tablespoons of yogurt into the bottom of each of the 6 parfait or stemmed glasses. Spoon 2 tablespoons of litchi jelly on top of the yogurt. Layer another 2 tablespoons of yogurt on top of the jelly. Sprinkle a few pieces of diced mangoes on top of the yogurt. Spoon two more tablespoons of yogurt on top of the diced mango. Spoon 2 more tablespoons of litchi jelly over the yogurt.
Finish each parfait with 2 more tablespoons of yogurt. The parfaits may be assembled, covered and kept overnight in the refrigerator.
- 5 cups litchi, peeled, pitted, & chopped.
- 3 cups sugar.
- 1 cup orange, peeled seeded and chopped.
- 1 cup raisins.
- 1 orange, rind of, finely sliced.
- 1 cup chopped pecans.
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger.
Combine all ingredients in a large pot except for pecans. Bing to a boil stirring till sugar is dissolved. Cook rapidly almost to the gelling point. About 15 minutes of a rolling boil while being stirred. Add pecans cook and stir for 5 more minutes. Pour into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust the caps. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Make sure tops of jar are cover by an inch of water. Cool at room temperature and store in your cabinet. Chill after opening.
LITCHI & CRAB SALAD, WITH CUCUMBER RIBBONS, AND A SWEET
- 12 litchis, peeled and stoned
- 200g crab meat
- ¼ red cabbage sliced
- ½ red onion, finely sliced
- 1 cucumber, sliced into ribbons
- 2 limes, quartered1 chilli to garnish
Ingredients for Dressing
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 50ml lime juice
- 100ml sweet chilli sauce
- 2 lime leaves
- 30g mint leaves
Arrange the salad on a platter. Combine the dressing ingredients in a food processor and combine. Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately
Red Slaw with Litchis
- 4 cups shredded red cabbage.
- 1 cup shredded carrots.
- ¼ cup chopped litchis.
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
- ½ cup chopped onion.2 slices chopped bacon.
- ¾ cup purchased coleslaw dressing.
- 1 tablespoon litchi juice.
- ½ teaspoon caraway or poppy seeds.
In a large serving bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, litchis and parsley.
Cook onion and bacon in skillet over medium heat until bacon is crisp. Drain & discard drippings. Add coleslaw dressing, litchi juice and caraway seeds to the onion mixture and stir to mix. Pour warm dressing over cabbage mixture and toss well.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, toss again before serving.
LITCHI & MINT ICED TEA
- 3 peppermint tea bags
- 500ml boiling water
- 2 cups litchi juice or water (may need to add sugar if using water)
- 10 peeled litchis for garnish1 bunch fresh mint, washed
- Brew tea in boiling water; allow to draw for 10 minutes.
- Pour brewed tea into a serving jug.
- Add the litchi juice and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
To serve garnish with mint and peeled litchi’s.
LITCHI AND GINGER ICE
- 100 g litchis on syrup
- 15 g ginger, peeled and grated
- 150 ml water
- Mint leaf for garnish
- Litchis for garnish
- Place litchis in a blender or food processor together with the ginger and water.
- Process to a fine puree.
- Pour the mixture into a 23 cm square baking tin and place in freezer for 3 hours – or until frozen.
- Break the iced mixture into chunks and process again until slushy.
- Return to the baking tin and freeze once more until solid.
- Allow the mixture to soften lightly (about 5 minutes) and scoop into 4 champagne glasses or rice bowls.
Garnish with mint leaves and litchis.
LITCHI STICKY MUFFIN
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. of salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of butter or margarine, melted
- 1 cup of chopped litchis
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk, oil, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Into each greased muffin cup, spoon 1 teaspoon butter, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and 1 heaping tablespoon of litchis. Top each with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes or until muffins test done. Invert pan onto a piece of foil. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove pan. Serve warm.
Litchi Cheesecake Blossom
- 8 sheets phyllo dough.
- 1/4 cup butter, melted.
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese.
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened.
- 1 egg.
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided.
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice, divided.
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.850g of litchis peeled, cut in halves, and juice reserved.
- Fresh litchis and sliced kiwifruit, for garnish.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease 12 (2 1/2 inch) muffin cups. Layer 4 sheets of phyllo dough on waxed paper, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Repeat with remaining 4 sheets, forming separate stack. Cut each stack in half lengthwise and then in thirds crosswise, to make a total of 12 squares. Gently fit each stacked square into prepared muffin cup, forming 4-petaled blossom.
Process the cheese, egg, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and the vanilla in a food processor or blender until smooth. Divide evenly among cups. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully remove from muffin cups to cool.
Bring reserved litchi juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally. Puree litchis in food processor or blender. Combine litchi puree, juice, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 3 teaspoon lemon juice. Refrigerate.
To serve, spoon litchi sauce onto 12 dessert plates. Place cheesecake blossom on each plate. Top with fresh litchis and arrange kiwifruit in sauce to resemble leaves.
- 375 ml (1½ c) castor sugar.
- 3 large eggs.
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon.
- 125 ml (½ c) sunflower oil.
- 250 ml (1 c) natural yoghurt.
- 83 ml (1/3 c) poppy seed.
- 300 ml desiccated coconut.
- 300 ml self-raising flour.
Preheat oven to 180 ºC. Line 2 x 12-bun or 2 x 6-bun jumbo-sized muffin tins with paper cases. Cream together castor sugar and eggs until light and fluffy with a hand-held electric whisk. Add oil, yoghurt, coconut and self-raising flour in this order and beat well after each addition. Fill paper-cases equally, bake until cooked and golden. Let it cool on a wire-rack.
- Mango muffins:
Omit the poppy seed and add 250 ml chunks of fresh or tinned mango to the batter. You can macerate pieces of dried mango in sherry or muscadel and add it to the batter.
- Muesli muffins:
Replace poppy seed by 125 ml muesli and grated rind of 1 lemon.
- Blueberry muffins:
Add 250 ml (1 c) blueberries (fresh or canned – well drained) to the batter.
Top the muffins in this cottage cheese icing for a festive event: Mix half a tub of smooth cottage cheese with a packet of icing-sugar and 30 ml (2 tbsp) soft butter. Add 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence and mix until smooth.