Longan is in season at the moment. You find these golden, brown leathery skin fruits in most of fresh food markets in late March and April. The fruit has translucent flesh and there is the black inedible seed in the middle, hence it has the name Dragon Eye fruit.
It’s best eaten when the fruits are still fresh and firm. To open just squeeze at the stalk end and the flesh should pop out.
Longan has a sweet and slightly aromatic taste with a pleasant consistency to chew on. And if you are the sort of person eat with the eyes like me, their beautiful teardrop appearance makes eating them a lovely experience.
In Vietnam, we often eat longan fresh or dried. However, there is a new “east meets west” dessert that very popular in recent years. It’s a very odd combination but the creamy panna cotta cubes match the jelly like texture of longan and crunchy of roasted almond slices so well. And the light pandan sugar syrup and chia seeds tie all the elements together perfectly.
Here is beautiful recipe from our beloved friend, Tran Linh in Ha Noi.
Almond cheese panna cotta and longan in pandan syrup
Recipe & Photo: Tran Linh
- 500ml full cream milk
- 500ml thickened cream
- 45g soft cheese (3 Laughing Cow pieces)
- 50g sugar
- 40g gelatin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon almond essence
- 5 pandan leaves
- 150g rock sugar
- 1/4 cup basil seeds
- 500g longan
- ½ cup sliced almond, roasted
- Soak gelatin in 100 ml of water for 15 minutes. Double boil the mixture until gelatin melted.
- Add milk, cream and 50g of sugar in a pot. Cook it on low heat and stir constantly until sugar completely dissolved. Add the cheese and stir until it completely melted. Take it off the heat and stir in the almond essence.
- Add the gelatin into the cream mixture, stir well and pour into box. Keep it in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours to set.
- In a large pot, add 1.5 litres of water, rock sugar and pandan leaves to the boil. Take it off the heat and let it cool down completely before chill it.
- Soak chia seeds in 11/2 cup of water, covered and store in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Peel off the longan skin and remove the seeds, set a side.
- When the panna cotta set, cut them into 2cm cube.
- To serve, add panna cotta, longan to the bowl, ladle the pandan syrup. Garnish with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and sprinkle with toasted almond. Eat it cold with ice if you wish.