What are tangerine peels (chen pi)?
Tangerine peel is called Chen Pi 陈皮 in Mandarin, usually made with Mandarin peel.
The following is a picture of Chen Pi I made last week. I like to make my own Chen Pi from time to time. I enjoy adding Chen Pi to my homemade dishes. I also added dried tangerine peels to tea blends to bring a brighter flavor into a cup of tea. They are so addictive and pleasant to drink.
You can use dried tangerine peels to give some zing to Szechuan dishes, or, as is popular with Chinese, use them in stews, stir-fries, and soups. Dried tangerine peels are used in sweet dishes such as Red Bean Soup, as well as in savory dishes such as Orange Chicken.
How to make Chen pi?
- Choose the ripe tangerine from the store. The ripe ones are normally a bright orange color. Avoid the greenish orange ones.
- Soak the tangerine in salt water for 5 minutes. Next, peel off the skins. The tangerine peel needs to be blanched in water to remove the bitterness.
- Dry the peels in the sun with the white skin side faced up.
- Collect all the dried tangerines skins and place them on the steam rack to steam them! About 15 minutes after the water boils, the skins should be softened up and the color should be darkened quite a bit.
- Rinse and repeat steps 3 and 4 one more time.
- Once done, keep all the tangerine skins in an airtight container.
The peels are dried and aged over an extended period of time to gain maximum benefits. Traditional Chinese orange peel is allowed to age until darkened. Sometimes the peel is roasted in a wok to accelerate that aging process.
Tips and tricks
You must soak the Chen Pi first to remove the white bits, or else, the white bits will produce an overwhelming stale flavor. Some people use an oven at very low temperatures to dry their rinsed skins, and that is fine too.
If you live somewhere with a wet climate and you need to dry your peels, you may need to use a dehydrator. If you have a dry, airy area of your home, then you can line up your peels on a rack and put them in there.
Not only is dried mandarin peel used in Chinese cooking, but also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Homemade dried tangerine peel often adds a genuine flavor to Asian or Chinese dishes, as opposed to the store-bought variety. If you love Asian or Chinese dishes and the distinctive flavor that these tangerine peels give the dishes, why not learn to make your own? 🙂