This is the season for fresh citrus fruits, rich oranges and tangerines bring a touch of lightness to bold winter scents.
But oranges don’t just offer juicy flesh, their peels are so prized in traditional Chinese medicine and cuisine that prices sometimes skyrocket: a kilogram of tangerine peels that have been stored for 30 years can easily cost 10,000 yuan ($1,575), while older peels are more expensive.
Xinhui in the southern province of Guangdong produces the finest tangerine peel, where locals use traditional processing methods that have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. It is a delicate process of repeated collection, cleaning, turning, drying and aging.
In Chinese medicine, mandarin peel is considered a warming agent that tones the lungs and spleen. It is pungent and bitter in nature and becomes stronger as the skin ages.
The oil in the peel is slightly irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, so it also stimulates the appetite and relieves some discomfort. Chenpi can also stimulate the bronchi, making it easier to cough up phlegm.
The easiest way to eat tangerine peel is to soak it in boiling water or a light tea such as red bean barley tea or roasted rice tea, which also has a slightly sour taste.
To relieve throat discomfort and nourish the lungs, you can try making a sweet and sour hot drink from fresh pear cubes with tangerine zest and rock sugar (appropriate amount). There is also a folk recipe that improves digestion: tangerine zest and hawthorn slices are boiled with rock sugar.
In addition to prunes, hawthorn, licorice, osmanthus and rock sugar, traditional sour plum drinks also contain tangerine zest.
The drink is usually simmered twice to bring out the full flavor, making it the perfect accompaniment to spicy dishes.
In Cantonese cuisine, one of the most popular desserts is red bean soup with tangerine zest, which is best prepared with Xinhui’s high quality tangerine zest. Red soup cooked to a thick consistency is best made with high quality small red beans (called chixiaodu, which is harder to cook but more nutritious).
Red beans are soaked in water for several hours beforehand to soften them, while tangerine skins should be soaked in boiling water for at least 30 minutes to scrape off the white flesh.
Then cut into thin slices. The next step is to prepare the red bean soup. At the beginning, add water to dilute the soup. Ingredients such as dried lotus seeds can also be added to the bean stew.
The soup should be boiled for an hour, then add orange peel slices and powdered sugar and cook for another hour.
In savory dishes, tangerine zest is often added to meat dishes to impart a mild citrus flavor that is neither too sweet nor too tart.
Chen Pi Duck is a classic Cantonese dish due to the greasy and usually thicker duck skin. Mandarin peel can not only remove some unpleasant aftertastes, but also balance the taste.
First, the duck is boiled with ginger, green onions, salt and dark soy sauce for a rich taste, then duck skin is added about 10 minutes before the dish is ready.
The same idea can be applied to other broths and stews, such as pairing tangerine peels with pork chops or brisket.
You can also soak a few slices of tangerine peel in water and then sprinkle it over steamed fish with chopped green onions and ginger for extra flavor.
Mandarin peel can also be candied by separating the citrus peel from the bitter white pith and boiling it in water to remove the bitterness.
Then make a syrup of water, licorice, salt and rock sugar, add tangerine zest and boil together to taste.
Then drain the peel (do not squeeze or press as this will take away the taste) and bake until semi-dry. Dip the crusts in the syrup again to absorb the liquid, then re-bake them semi-dry.
When enjoying store-bought tangerine peel snacks, it’s important to be mindful of the sodium content, as the rich flavor comes from adding a lot of sugar and salt, so moderation is ideal.
Tangerine peel candy is a very appetizing confection with a pronounced salty taste, and is often eaten before meals to stimulate the appetite without leaving too much sweetness in the mouth.
Post time: Mar-27-2023