What's like lychees?

I have a recipe that calls for lychees (fresh or tinned), and I can’t find the damn things anywhere! Anyone have any suggestions about what I should use instead?

They’re going in a sauce for egg noodles, the main other ingredients in the sauce being shallots, courgettes, and red pepper, if that makes any difference.

You could try rambutan, though if you’re in place that doesn’t have lychees, I doubt you can find rambutan either.

nothing’s like a lychee IMHO ( I prefer the fresh ones)

you can obtain canned ones at any good Oriental grocery store.

Not in Dublin, you can’t. Apparently.

Thanks for the suggestion though.

How about rambutans? As an unadventurous cook, I won’t try to advise you any further, (although I do find it a bit surprising that lychees can’t be found). No doubt one day after your dinner party or whatever, you will find yourself unable to avoid the things!

Of course, it now occurs to me that if your shops don’t sell lychees, they may not sell other unusual fruits. Ooops! Best of luck.

I’ve only had the canned ones, and, as I recall they had a texture something like a canned pear, with a somewhat tarter taste. (It’s been compared to raspberries, but I dunno.)

That said, I’m really wondering where they would belong in the recipe you describe. Is it a sort of curryish thing? If so, you might be able to substitute some other fruit like mango, peach or pineapple.

Lychees are pretty darn unique, so substituting for them will be tricky. They are somewhat similar to green, peeled grapes. Nice firm, round ones could suit your purpose. They will at least at the texture and sweetness of lychees, if not the exact flavor.

Not really a curry thing. I’m just supposed to stir-fry the veggies for a few minutes and then pour them over my noodles. The idea of using pears instead is rather intriguing. Any other suggestions?

(and yes, sadly, it does appear that other exotic fruits are out.)

How about Mandarin oranges? I don’t know if they’d survive the stir-fry process, though.

Maybe it’s just me, but courgettes (that’s zucchini, right?) red pepper and shallots sound okay on their own. I can’t really imagine what the lychees would add. If you are looking for a fruit to put in, how about some nice, sweet cherry tomatoes?

Another possible solution:

It sounds as if they’re wanting something a little sweet, so I’d suggest either dried apricots (stew them first in a little water, either on stovetop or in the microwave, then chop), or if your market has them, whole dried cherries (not candied like for hot-cross buns!). They’re pretty expensive, but very flavorful so you shouldn’t need more than about 150 g.

Oh, and one more thing comes to mind on the mango theme: a touch of sweet chutney, perhaps?

My qualifications: had a tree in the yard once. Fresh ones are much more like peeled grapes than like pears. Don’t know about rambutan (if you can’t find lychee in town, I’d doubt you can find rambutan. . .)

For texture and size, I’m wondering if whole water chestnuts would work. To make them come close, for taste, you might have to soak them in sugar water for a day or two.

(They won’t be lychees. I agree with the previous observation that nothing is “like” lychees. But I’m wondering if the recipe wants them for the taste or the texture. Another possibility (for texture/taste, but absolutely not for sight)–and possibly not available in Ireland–would be small melon balls from a canteloupe, or, better, a honey dew.)

You could try mangostens.
Almost the same thing as Lychees.

Anyone noticed, if you eat a lot of fresh lychees in one sitting it really heats you up inside. It is the oddest thing, never been able to figure out why.


If you want something even approximate to the flavor/texture I’d go with either peeled green grapes or canned pears in heavy syrup.

Water chestnuts aren’t even close (wrong texture), and the tomotoes and cherries aren’t even near a lychee (too strongly flavored).

I’m very surprised that you can’t find lychees in Dublin, they are common as muck over here in the UK, every large supermarket has them.

If you can’t find Lychees thoughm then you definitely won’r find rambutans, they aren’t as commonly imported.

Terminus Est’s suggestion of Mandarin oranges is pretty good (I’ve often thought that the texture and taste of fresh lychees was reminiscent od Tinned orange segments (although lychees are more fragrant).

You might be able to substitute (for the purpose of the recipe anyway) dried apricots if you poached them in rose water or orange flower water first, but they would look quite different.

Oops, didn’t see that OxyMoron had already suggested apricots…

Unfortunately, the tinned lychees aren’t quite as nice as fresh (as with many things), but if you want to email me your postal address, I’d be happy to send you a tin, don’t know if it would arrive in time for the meal you’re planning though.

Well as it turned out events conspired to keep me from having time to get to the grocery store to try anyone’s suggestions, so I wasn’t able to substitute anything. cher3, you were right, it was damned good without them. But thanks for the help, everyone. I’m sure it will come in handy at some point.