Opening lychees

Look for firm fruit that give a little when squeezed, but doesn’t easily collapse.

Open by hand or with a knife. Chinese Emperors did it themselves by hand. They thought their chefs might help themselves to a couple of lychees while preparing them.

If opening by knife, all you’ll need is a sharp knife and a cutting board.

Step 1

To take off the stem, you have 3 options:

  1. With a fingernail dig just under the stem and pull the stem of the lychee off.
  2. Or you can insert a small knife just under the top of the lychee and cut-off the stem.
  3. You can grasp the nub of the stem and pull away the stem, but you may find too much of the white insides come out with the stem.

Step 2

To get the lychee remaining tough shell off, you have 2 options:

  1. You can use a sharp knife to carefully cut around the entire fruit to the seed then pull off the shell with your fingers.
  2. Or you can simply peel off the skin with your fingers. Sometimes you can simply squeeze the fruit and the white insides will pop-out. Chinese emperors would simply pop the lychee into their mouths.

Step 3

Slice in half, open, pull out the seed and discard.

Step 4

The seed may leave behind some of its skin. You can eat or scrape out.

Add to your dish. When open, lychees can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.

Store extra unopened fruit at room temperature.