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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lychee Bellini

What the ...?? What are those crazy little fruits on branches?  We were in the fish market the other day when I found these fabulous fresh lychee branches.  It's rare to find something like this outside of Chinatown- and in a fish market no less!  We walked out with a cooler of live lobsters and a bouquet of lychee's.

If you haven't had or seen a lychee before, here is what they look like. A reddish rind covers the translucent-like flesh wrapped around a somewhat poisonous pit growing on branches.  The flavor is reminiscent of flowers- sweet and fragrant; it's not going to be everyone's favorite. 

Chutney's, jams and muffins all came to mind as I pondered what to do with this strange ingredient.  I also think a barbecue sauce would be fantastic.  Ultimately, though, I didn't want to change the fruit itself, which narrowed the options.  Friends popped by with a bottle of champagne and an idea was born.  By simply blending the lychee's with a little fresh orange juice and black pepper, we had lovely, flowery mimosas to start our day.

Strange ingredients are so fun to play with, don't avoid them.  Buy them, taste them and experiment - you may just be sending me a new fat and happy recipe!

Tips and techniques:  You can freeze the lychee right in their rind. Simply pop them in the freezer as-is and remove about 30 minutes prior to using. Save one or two of the lychee halves to decorate the glass with (I ate too many of mine and didn't have enough left over for my photos.)

Lychee Bellini

5 peeled lychee's (2 more for decoration)
1 fresh orange
a turn of fresh ground black pepper
1 bottle of champagne

Place the lychee's in the blender, squeeze the juice of the orange into the blender and add a twist or two of fresh ground black pepper.  Blend until smooth.

Fill 4 champagne glasses about one quarter full with the lychee puree, top with champagne (stir if needed) and add a  lychee fruit half to the edge of the glass. Serve immediately.

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