longan

Pronunciation: [LONG-uhn]

Also called dragon's eye this native Southeast Asian fruit is small (about 1 inch in diameter) and round and has a thin brown shell. Inside is a translucent white, juicy-soft pulp that surrounds a large black seed, which gives it an eyeball appearance when halved. The perfumy flavor is delicate and sweet. Fresh longans can occasionally be found in Asian markets and some produce markets from October to May. They may be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 3 weeks. The easy-to-peel shell must be removed before eating. Dried and canned longans are available year-round. Longans are eaten as a snack (just pop in your mouth and eat around the seed) and used in some Asian soups, sweet-and-sour dishes and desserts.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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