Lychee fruit must be eaten as soon as possible after they are picked from the trees if you want to get the best out of them.
The reason is this: the fruit’s bright reddish peel color starts to turn dull from day one after it comes off the tree, from day two its fragrance becomes weaker, and from day three its supreme flavor would go away.
Though the fruit is tasty, it should not be consumed in great quantity due to its “hot” nature, according to the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine.
But there are two ways to remove its hotness. Some believe that the fruit should be immersed into saline water for half an hour before consumption. Others say it is possible to drink the boiling water of lychee leaves or lychee peels.
On a trip to a lychee farm in mainland China recently, I opted for a bit of moderation. As the Cantonese saying goes, limited quantity makes for tastier consumption.
Leaving the lychee farm, we had dinner at a farm-to-table restaurant in Dongguan. It was wonderful to see fish in ponds and chicken running free in an open field.
My Dongguan friends were very hospitable. As part of my welcome, they had readied 5 kg of macrolepiota albuminosa, a species of agaric fungus, and more than 10 catties of wild barramundi (盲鰽).
Since the fungus was a bit too old, it was best for making soup with the farm’s free-range chickens.
The big, wild barramundi turned into three different dishes.
The fish head and belly were steamed with fermented black beans. The remaining fish was pan-fried or stir-fried with celery and snow peas.
The steamed tubby scorpionfish was tender like the expensive grouper.
As for the garlic shrimps, they were perfectly steamed. I was impressed by the chef as he made things easy for us by having the shells removed in advance.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 9.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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