Tangerine Peels (Dried)
Dried Tangerine Peel, Chen Pi
Traditional Chinese Name:
陳皮 (chen pí)
This ingredient is warm, sweet, and pungent. It targets the lungs and spleen.
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Ah, the mighty tangerine peel! Dried tangerine peel that is. This age old ingredient is one of those passed down traditions that are used in so many dishes, soups, stews, teas, and desserts. Even to the point that there’s a whole art behind the drying process of tangerine peels and… get this, the older it is, the more valuable. Just like wine!
For those who are new to this ingredient, I’d suggest you try a bit first and see how it lands. It’s got sweet, sour, and bitter tones running through it and carries into the dishes and soups and teas it touches. The Chinese sometimes add this to steamed dishes like steamed pork patty or some stews and I can definitely taste it!
How do I prepare it?
- You definitely have to pre-soak dried tangerine peels before using them for cooking. Although shredded or powdered tangerine peels are also available on the market, but not traditionally used in cooking.
- Soak as large of a piece as you will be using.
- Put into a bowl and add room temperature water until it’s fully covered.
- It takes about an hour for it to soften.
- Some will use a butter knife to scrape clean the outside (the darker side) to have it less bitter. I just rub with my fingers in water to ensure it’s clean.
- Depending on how you want to use your dried tangerine peels, I will sometimes slice very thinly so I can control the amount going in.
Where can I buy it and cost?
- You can purchase this from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged
- You can also purchase this in bulk from specialty stores (online herbal shops)
- Some ambitious soup makers actually make their own and can be easily done if you’ve got dry enough conditions. I’m going to save this for another post. My own mom and mother-in-law have made this from scratch. Definitely not a lost art, yet! There’s hope!
- The prices do range enormously depending on the life of the dried tangerine peel. You can find a bag of 100g for $10.00 CAD at the supermarket
What are the benefits?
- Tangerines are the powerhouse for coughs, eliminating dampness from the lungs, and disperses phlegm
- It’s a warming ingredient that is helps regulate the Qi, so it’s also a key ingredient found in Chinese confinement recipes
- It’s a highly versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways in the Chinese cuisine
- Dried tangerine peels have amazing storage life (as far as I know, almost forever…) so long as you keep them in dry, covered storage and take them out to air every 6 months (this is perfect in Canada in the winter!)
- Be sure you’re buying dried tangerine peels from a reputable source
- Soaking and cleaning will help remove some of the pesticides often found on the tangerine peel
- It’s definitely an acquired taste, so go slowly if you’re new to this ingredient or introducing it into cuisine (like my kids). I’ll start with one small piece in soups and a few slices in teas and steamed dishes.
Why not make your own dried tangerine peels?
This is my mother-in-law drying her own tangerine peels in Hong Kong (you can tell from the giant condensed buildings!). I loved how it she talked so casually about making this in modern times and will always throw in a large piece of this into her chicken soup. This is a warming ingredient, so best used with complimentary warming soup combinations.
You can follow this guide on how to pair soup ingredients based on their warming or cooling natures.