Lychee, Coconut & Sake Sorbet


Sydney, the city of long, brilliantly-blisteringly-hot-gorgeous-blue-sky, summer days has only now in the last few weeks of the beach season gotten its act together. This calls for a celebration of sorts. So between brunch at airy cafes and sessions sitting in the sun – and in an attempt to avoid my oven – I’ve made sorbet.

12-02-26_LycheeCoconutSorbet 12-02-26_LycheeCoconutSorbet

Now you see, I am quite in love with summer fruit. As a result, when Cessie from Impact Communications contacted me recently to see if I wanted some lychees the only logical answer was ‘yes, of course!’. Usually my favourite way to eat lychees is to sit with a bowl of the odd little gems, peeling them one at a time, pulling sections of flesh off the centre stone and relishing the sweet juice.

It makes me think of both holidays on tropical islands and produce shopping in NYC’s Chinatown – possibly two of the most opposite experiences you could ever encounter – but eating lychees straight doesn’t make for a particularly compelling blog post.


So what to do with them? I have been reasonably obsessed with coconut lately – cooking and baking with coconut oil, drinking the water and scraping out the flesh from whole young drinking coconuts, and using coconut milk in place of dairy.

And while lychees and coconut on their own would be tropical and delicious, I had some sake sitting around from another recent experiment stroke of brilliance [don’t worry, that will be up soon] and for good measure threw in a bit of lime and vanilla.


If you wanted to use this straight out of the freezer it acts like a granita, leave it to sit for a bit and it will scoop like an icy sorbet. Either way, it’s adults-only… so give the kids some fresh lychees and keep the sorbet to yourself – perfect.



Lychee, Coconut & Sake Sorbet


1 can [400 mls / 12 oz / approx 1 1/2 c] coconut cream
6 single kaffir lime leaves

250 g lychees – approx 15 pieces
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 oz [2 Tbsp, 30 ml] sake or less to taste

Quick Method:

Heat coconut cream with bruised kaffir lime leaves, refrigerate till cool. Puree lychees, strain for juice only, mix with infused coconut milk and remove leaves. Stir through sake, vanilla and lime juice.

Freeze for at least 4 hours, stirring regularly to break up ice crystals. Scoop and serve with extra fresh lychee segments.

Full Method:

Place a wide shallow dish in the freezer to cool.

Pour coconut cream into a small saucepan. Twist kafir lime leaves to release oils and add to the pan with the coconut. Heat gently until just simmering. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cold.

Puree lychees. Strain, pressing on solids to remove all of the juice – you will only end up with a Tbsp or two of pulp – discard or add to a breakfast smoothie.

Remove kaffir lime leaves from coconut cream. Mix lychee juice, lime juice, vanilla paste and sake with the infused coconut. Pour mixture into your cold dish and freeze for at least 4 hours. Every 30 minutes or so remove dish from freezer and mix with a fork or a small whisk to break up crystals. When almost frozen you can whip the mixture with an electric beater  if you wish.

Once frozen, scrape the surface with a spoon or fork to create a granita. Alternatively, allow to sit out on counter for 10 minutes until scoop-able. Garnish with extra fresh lychee segments.

Makes 1 pint [2 cups]


  • In the absence of fresh lychees you could use canned ones, just make sure to drain the syrup first.


Bonus round!!!

Serve as part of a trio of boozy Lychee love…


Cold sake with a frozen lychee, a small scoop of sorbet and a lime wedge | Sorbet straight up | Sparkling wine with a lychee


Impact Communications were kind enough to send me a box filled with lychees. It came wrapped with a pretty brown ribbon and stuffed with red tissue paper – those ladies know how to do things right. It took all my self-control not to eat them all before I made this recipe.




    • JJ says

      Cheers Peter – now to get an ice cream maker… on second thought that may not be such a good idea – ha!

  1. says

    I don’t like lychees…BUt my mom adores them. Your recipe is so refreshing that I am thinking perhaps it is time I rethink my relationship with lychees. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Milagros Mcquillan says

    The lychee has a history and cultivation going back as far as 2000 BC according to records in China. Cultivation began in the area of southern China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Wild trees still grow in parts of southern China and on Hainan Island. There are many stories of the fruit’s use as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. It was first described and introduced to the west in 1782.”:-‘

    Best regards


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