Cooking By The Book - Lychee-Coconut Sorbet
My overflowing kitchen library shelves contain three types of books: cookbooks (hundreds of them), collections of food essays/memoirs, and reference books. In the latter category one of the most referenced volumes is Culinary Artistry, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. Peeking from the edges of its pages are several paper sticky-tab dividers I placed to quickly open to the most used sections: Food Matches Made in Heaven, Seasoning Matches Made in Heaven, and Common Accompaniments to Entrees.
Culinary Artistry has introduced to me to some surprisingly delicious flavor pairings, such as beets and horseradish with corned beef, and lobster and vanilla. One day while trying to decide what to do with a can of lychees I had purchased at an Asian grocery store a while back, I thumbed open The Book.
It took me a moment to find the tiny lychee section under “litchi nuts”, where I learned that coconut, cream, and kiwi fruit are great partners for lychees. Sounded like dessert to me. Some quick searches of my recipe files and the Internet uncovered quite a few lychee ice cream recipes, but one particular one for Lychee Coconut Sorbet from Gourmet Magazine stood out because not only did it contain two of the three items considered to be the lychee’s flavor mate, but it appeared to be a breeze to make, with only three ingredients and about 5 minutes preparation time.
The secret to its quick and easy preparation is canned Cream of Coconut, that thick sweetened, creamy ingredient used in making pina coladas and other tropical cocktails. Coco Lopez is the common brand but Goya also makes one. The cream of coconut, along with some fresh lime juice, the canned lychees, and some of their syrup are simply pureed in the blender until smooth and frozen in an ice cream maker.
Tropical sorbet made from canned convenience foods?! Well, I had all the ingredients on hand and a few minutes to spare so I quickly whipped up a batch and in about 35 minutes I tasted Lychee Coconut Sorbet.
The aroma was tropical, almost floral. The sorbet was tangy and very refreshing, with the subtle coconut flavor mellowing the lychee flavor. This is guest-worthy!
Lychee Coconut Sorbet is perfect dessert fare after a spicy Asian meal (Chinese, Indian or Thai). Gourmet’s recipe serves it with fresh mango slices but I paired it with homemade Mango Gelato.Lychee Coconut Sorbet
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2004
Yield 1 pint
1 20-oz can lychees in syrup
1/2 cup well-stirred sweetened Cream of Coconut (not coconut milk or coconut cream)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Drain lychees, reserving syrup. Purée lychees, cream of coconut, 1/4 cup of the reserved syrup, and 2 tablespoons lime juice in a blender until smooth. Freeze in ice cream maker.