Sunday, March 31, 2024

All About Dried Tangerine Peel

You couldn’t help but feel the passion Chef Li has for his favorite ingredient Dried Tangerine Peel (陳皮) whenever he started talking about it. From the different types of tangerines that were used, to the way they were prepared in his hometown of Xinhui 新會 in Guangdong Province near Guangzhou and Shunde (which arguably produced the best dried tangerine peel), to how they were dried and aged and different flavor and aroma profiles developed, Chef Li is like a living encyclopedia for these all. And a few months ago, he even came up with a Dried Tangerine Peel-themed special menu at his restaurant The Legacy House at Rosewood Hong Kong, which was quickly sold out.

I attended the event on one of those days – courtesy of Rosewood Hong Kong – and it was amazing. We began not with food but with drinks – first a few types of Pu-er tea aged in different types of Tangerines, followed by a vertical tasting of Dried Tangerines “tea” in different ages. Tangerine Pu-er (柑普茶) has become a thing in recent years, with Pu-er tea leaves dried and aged inside the whole tangerine with subtle aroma and tartness infused into the tea leaves over time. Dried tangerine peels released its amazing aroma and flavor by heat and liquid so the proper way to taste was to soak them briefly in hot water, and only by tasting the “tea” side by side one were able to appreciate the varietal and age differences, similar to one with wines.

Dried Tangerine Peel may be a common ingredient in classic Cantonese cuisine, from everyday homestyle dishes to the most elaborate ones, but Chef Li still came up with some unique ones – nine in total all prepared with different types of dried peels including some really old ones that are hard to find (and not to mention very expensive) these days. The trio of “snacks” served as our appetizer platter. I enjoyed the minced fish dumpling, cooked in classic Shunde style, infused with subtle dried tangerine peel aroma and sweetness from the bits of passionfruit.  The Fish Maw soup with Lamb Head and Hoof was beautifully done and heart-warming for colder months. The 50-year dried tangerine peel added to the complex flavor profile with that mellow nutty aroma that could only be developed by passage of time. It’s said to have great medicinal value too – I felt my cough just got better at the end of the meal with my fair dose of Dried Tangerine Peel.

Duck and Taro were another Cantonese classic and a signature dish at the restaurant, and 23-year-old dried tangerine peel was added to enhance the complexity of flavor. The bamboo pith and lobster was an interesting dish too, with the lobster meat mashed and rolled (reminded me of Provencal style quenelles actually), and then steamed with bamboo pith on the outside. The younger dried tangerine peels were used this time in the sauce, giving the dish a subtle sweetness. The razor clams was another dish I enjoyed, sauteed with thinly-peeled bamboo shoots with salted lemon and dried tangerine peel. It’s a common household dish made elegant by kitchen team’s amazing skills and Chef Li’s culinary touch.

Even the dessert was made with tangerines. The whole small tangerine was stuffed with glutinous rice flour dumpling and simmered in a sweet soup with longan, jujube, lotus seed and lily bulb. It was nourishing with so many textures and nice aromas in. What an experience learning something new while being blown away by the dishes served. 

More photos here:

When? December 8 2023
Where? The Legacy House, Level 5, The Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon
Menu Highlights? Braised Fish Maw Soup, Lamb Head, Lamb Hoof, 50-year Dried Tangerine Peel 五十年老陳皮花膠羊頭蹄羹


No comments :