A delicious and very refreshing snack or dessert on a hot day, canned sea coconut jelly with longan only takes 5 minutes to make and is full of fibre, keeping you full for longer. The longans helps to provide a nice contrast in texture and the Calamansi lime, whilst optional, makes it even more appetising.
What is Asian sea coconut?
Asian sea coconut, you may be surprised to hear, is actually the fruit of a Palmyra Palm tree, sometimes called toddy palm , Tah, Tai, Talouriksha Palm, Lontar, Wine Palm, Tala Palm, Doub Palm, Sugar Palm, Sea coconut, Fan Palm and 糖棕. It is often added to tong sui and jellies in Singapore and Malaysia.
Note: there is another type of sea coconut from Seychelles. You can read more about it in my sea coconut dessert tong sui post.
How to make
There are actually 2 ways to make canned sea coconut jelly with longan:
- as 1 solid jelly block with the longan fruit and sea coconut pieces in the jelly (see photo above)
- The canned longan and sea coconut pieces are scattered in a heat-proof container then the (hot) liquid jelly is poured over them and allowed to set.
- Problem: Making this is super easy but cutting is another issue altogether. As you can see from my photo above, it is difficult to cut the jelly in straight lines as the sea coconut and longan fruits obstruct the way/ are more difficult to cut through, resulting in the jelly breaking first.
- Solution: 1 way to get around this is to use less longan and sea coconut, so you have more space to cut straight lines OR to cut the longan and sea coconut into smaller pieces first.
- as a jelly salad, in which the jelly, the longan and sea coconut are 3 separate items that are mixed in a bowl
- This is obviously the simpler method and is actually how sea coconut jelly is sold in hawker centres in Singapore (street food).
- Longan is the traditional pairing with sea coconut, but if you don't have any, you can use other fruits such as canned pineapple, canned rambutan etc
- The jelly tastes much better on a hot day when it is chilled first. It is super refreshing eaten cold! You can also make many other flavours, such as champagne jelly, no sugar coconut jelly and osmanthus jelly.
- If you can't get calamansi, use lime or 1 of these calamansi substitutes- don't skip the citrus as it'll make the dessert sing. Or if you have too much of the fruit, here are some calamansi dessert recipes!
No. There are actually 2 types of sea coconut- the "real" one also known as coco de mer, which is from the Seychelles and a protected species, and the toddy palm, which is called sea coconut in Asia (hence sometimes known as "Asian Sea coconut.) Both are of the palm family. For more information, check out my post on sea coconut tong sui.
Other related recipes
Canned sea coconut jelly with Canned longan
- Heat proof container large enough to contain the jelly
- 1 can sea coconut, 240g drained weight Substitute: honey sea coconut (If the drained weight is slightly different don't worry too much, you can keep the rest in an air tight container in the fridge for a few days and use it in drinks and other desserts, or just make your jelly with more "filling")
- 1 can longan, drained weight 230g You can use the syrup in the can in place of water when making the jelly, as it has some of the floral and fruity fragrance and longan. (It probably won't be enough though, so use water to make up the rest.) You can also use other fruits such as rambutans.
- Gelling agent- I used agar agar powder. If you can't get agar, see notes for a link to alternatives. The amount would depend on the gelling agent you use (agar agar powder, for example, would require a different amount of water from konnyaku powder) The brand of agar agar powder I used is a 10g: 1 litre of water ratio but, as mentioned, this varies so check the back of your packet.
- 2 litres Water
- ½ Cup Sugar, optional (250G/ 8.81 oz) Some brands of gelling agent are pre-sweetened. Mine was not so I added white granulated sugar. (The recommendation on the packet is 1 Cup/ 500g/ 17.6 OZ of sugar or 2 litres, but I prefer to each more healthily, and I felt the sea coconut jelly was sweet enough thanks to the longans.) If you use the brine from the canned fruit, reduce the sugar even more as that is already quite sweet. See notes on alternative sugars.
- Calamansi lime, halved Substitute: other limes or lemon
Method 1: making 1 block of jelly, studded with longans and sea coconut
- Arrange the sea coconut and longan in a heat proof container large enough for the jelly. You may want to cut the sea coconut and longan first, if you plan to cut the jelly into small pieces later, if not they will make slicing clean lines difficult.
- Make your jelly as per the instructions on the back of your packet. If using agar agar powder like myself, add it, the sugar and water to a large pot.
- Bring to the boil over low heat. Once boiling, switch off the fire, and carefully pour the liquid jelly into the container which contains the longan and sea coconut (Be careful as the jelly mixture is hot)
- Cool in the fridge till hardened. Not all gelling agents need to be chilled in the fridge, but this dessert tastes best cold, so I recommend cooling in the fridge regardless.
- Once set, cut into your desired shape. I did mine in the form of rabbits for Easter!
- Plate the pieces, then squeeze some calamansi lime over them, making sure every piece gets some.
Method 2 (easier): the way street stalls serve sea coconut jelly
- Open the canned longans and sea coconut, pour into an air-tight container and chill in the fridge. (Note: you may want to separate out the longan juice to use to make the jelly)
- Make the jelly as above. After it has cooled in the fridge, cut it into smaller pieces- I like my pieces about 2x size of my thumb, as I think it provides the best contrast in texture given the size of the longans and the sea coconut pieces, but don't stress if yours is different.
- Portion out some jelly slices, some longans and some sea coconut into each bowl.
- Squeeze a bit of the calamansi lime over each bowl, and add a halved-piece to each bowl, to provide a pop of colour and so people can add more lime if they wish.