Bartenders all over the city have been loving the lychee, so why can’t I? Especially in the summer months, when cool, juicy and sweet flavors rule. And especially when Sugar High Friday, the dessert food-blogging event created by The Domestic Goddess, is calling this month’s challenge theme “Shades of White”, hosted by Seven Spoons. I’m not sure exactly what shade of white the lychee is. It begins much more white fresh than it looks canned, which is a slight shell-pink or peach hue.
But since fresh lychees don’t travel too easily, and they’re imported from China, they’re relatively expensive and a pain to have to purchase only in the summertime only in Chinatown. Canned lychees, on the other hand, are much more democratic. They can be found year-round, and I even grabbed a couple of cans of them at my local grocery in Brooklyn. This is probably the only kind bartenders use, too (I know this because I’ve recently been drinking far too many lychee martinis, and they’re always studded with a little canned lychee). So what happens, I thought, when you crush a can of lychees still in their syrup, to a watery sort of fruit puree, and throw it into the ice cream/sorbet/frozen yogurt churner? Sorbet. An exotic frozen treat of the most democratic order.
Certainly, the mint is not necessary to the sorbet, but I thought the combination gave it a nice fresh contrast — without damaging the oh-so-chaste and pure whiteness of the dessert too much. I’m excited to see what other white desserts are rounded up this Friday at Seven Spoons, and am hoping that mine is among the fairest of them all.
Lychee Sorbet with Mint
(makes about 1 quart of sorbet)
2 16-oz cans of lychees in syrup — one with the syrup and one drained
4-5 fresh mint leaves
Juice of half a lemon
In a food processor or blender, blend lychees with the syrup from just one can, mint, and lemon juice to a smooth consistency, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to an ice cream/sorbet maker and follow directions for making sorbet.
2 16-oz cans of lychees (at $1.99/each): $3.98
4-5 mint leaves (from my friend’s plant): $0.00 (I know, that’s not really fair… so let’s say): $0.25
1/2 lemon (at $0.33/each): $0.17
Total: $4.40 (note: had I puchased cans of lychees in Chinatown, it probably would cost half as much)
Six brownie points: Lychees are fruits, not nuts, and as such they’re a good source of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Even packed in syrup, they’re relatively low in calories, though the syrup had enough sugar for me to omit it completely for the sorbet recipe (sorbet usually calls for cupfuls of sugar along with fruit). Either way, with homemade sorbet rather than store-bought, you can be sure you’re at least eating cupfuls of sugar and not its evil twin, high fructose corn syrup.