What’s in the Fridge? No. 12 – Lychees!

Robin Boyle Chinese, Dinner, In the fridge?, Main course

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After our virtual dinner party No. 5 we had left over lychees and syrup in the fridge. What to do with them?

Chicken With Lychees

Many years ago a friend attended a cooking class run by Elizabeth Chong, a legend in Melbourne. It was in the early 1980s. A week or so after the class our friend cooked some of the dishes for us.

One of them, which has stuck in mind ever since, was chicken with lychees. It was very delicate, quite silky and slightly sweet but not too sweet. A recipe I always wanted to revisit but never did.

The left over lychees in our fridge provided the stimulus.

Our friend has lost her copy of the recipe but she and I have tried to track it down. The closest we can come to is a recipe from the wonderful collection of Women’s Weekly Cookbooks.

Here is the link to that recipe: Women’s Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook.

However, it didn’t seem the recipe that would produce what I had remembered. So I experimented to try and recreate what I had experienced all that time ago. Following is my method, which we were extremely happy with and would certainly do again.

It specifies half a 560g tin of lychees. If you are cooking for more than two people, use the lot and double the other ingredients. You could use fresh lychees if you wish, but you will need to provide a substitute for the syrup. The recipe uses chicken thighs, which give a succulent result; breasts would be fine too, but a little drier. Use whatever coloured capsicums you can get. Please use quality chicken – you miss out on a superior result by using the cheaper supermarket options. I used standard bottled tomato sauce (‘ketchup’) but you could try some chopped tomatoes.

Ingredients (for two people)

  • 330g skinless chicken thighs (or breasts) in 1.5 cm sized dice
  • 2 tbsps peanut oil
  • 1 red capsicum, large dice
  • 1 green capsicum, large dice
  • 8 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 small hot chilli, finely chopped (or equivalent in minced or dried)
  • 2 tbsps tomato sauce (‘ketchup’) (or two chopped tomatoes)
  • half the lychees and syrup from a 560g tin
  • 1/4 cup of strong chicken stock (or equivalent in dried stock)
  • 1 or 2 tbsps dry sherry or vermouth
  • 1 or 2 tbsps soy sauce
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oil in the wok, and over high heat stir-fry the capsicum for two minutes.
  2. Add chicken and stir-fry for two more minutes.
  3. Add spring onions, garlic, ginger and chilli.
  4. Stir though the tomato sauce, lychees and syrup (equal to half the tin) and stock.
  5. Allow to bubble away for the syrup and juice to reduce slightly, tossing regularly.
  6. After several minutes, add some sherry, soy sauce and salt and pepper.
  7. Taste to see that the chicken is cooked and the lychees are warmed through. Add more salt and pepper and soy sauce if needed.
  8. Serve immediately.

Serves: Two to four, depending on volume of ingredients used. Serve with other Chinese dishes if desired. Serve with steamed rice and extra soy sauce and perhaps some chopped or crushed chilli.

Difficulty: Not difficult (2/5).

Contributions welcomed!

If you have any inspirational moments based on what’s in the fridge or on the shelves, we are happy to hear about them, including the ingredients, (good quality photos if you have any) and why it turned out so well.