A Bite of China – Dried Orange Peel and Bitter Flavour

2012-09-27China Food

Among all flavor sensations, bitter is the one that naturally tends to be bad for us. Our taste buds for perceiving bitter flavors are hidden in the tongue root, though, they are extremely sensitive. However, Chinese seem to be particularly good at enjoying and tolerating bitter flavors. They seem to have developed the ability to appreciate both the bitter of life and foods in their struggle for a better life. Because they believe, there are richer flavor sensations hidden behind bitter. The usage of bitter not only exists in food materials, but also in various seasonings, for instance, dried orange peel (Chinese: 陈皮, Chenpi).
Dried orange peel may sound strange for foreigners, which has fragrant odor and acrid and bitter taste. In Xinhui, a district of Jiangmen City in China’s Guangdong Province, dried orange peel is one thing people can’t live without. People make a living by it, and they say, dried orange peel means not a means of living but also their root.

In October, the leaves of citruses in Xinhui turn from green to yellow with sweet smell. People skin fresh tangerines peels, and choose a sunny day to dry white part of tangerine peels. All tangerine peels within five years are sun-dried at least one time each year, until moisture, sugar, and oil are evaporated. The value of dried orange peel depends on how long it has been stored. The longer it has been dried, the expensive it is. It is said that Xinhui Dried Mandarin Peel (orange peel) were mostly transported to north China in the past. When they were transported out of Lingnan area (the area covers the Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces of modern China), the aroma of them is even stronger. A story goes that an overseas Chinese went abroad and carried some dried orange peels. When the ship arrived in the Pacific Ocean, the fragrance of peel overflowed at once. The tangy fragrance of dried orange peel is unique. Preserved Mandarin Peel (九制陈皮) is a Cantonese snack food. It is a dried candied orange peel popular among kids and students. With a refreshingly bittersweet flavor of orange peels, it can relieve thirsty and stop coughing. The preparation process involves nine steps, including husking, soaking, fresh-keeping, chopping, salting, trickling, flavoring, air-drying, and packaging.
Chinese love dried orange peel because it gives the sweet flavor after bitter. To this extend, dried orange peel is somewhat like the green tea. Only the Chinese can see the secret. Dried orange peel is a traditional Chinese medicine. This has not stopped chefs from using it for cooking, making soup, and even making dessert. The power of dried orange peel should never be underestimated. It can be helpful in improving deficiency of spleen and stomach, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. In south China, dried orange peel can even determine the fate of a restaurant. Dried orange peel is widely used in dining in Guangdong, especially in Jiangmen. Chenpi Feast has become the highlights and tradition of cooking culture of Jiangmen. The Chenpi Feast contains several dishes involving dried orange peel, such as, Chenpi Stewed Duck (陈皮鸭), Chenpi chrysanthemum-like shrimps (陈皮菊花虾), and Chyenpi Deep-fried Ribs (陈皮骨), etc. 
Chenpi Stewed Duck (陈皮鸭) is a traditional Cantonese dish. It is also a signature dish for many restaurants. The cooking process is complicated. A duck is salted in various kinds of flavorings and fried slightly. They fried duck will be further flavored. Dried orange peel will create the unique flavor of this dish. With right amount of water, the duck meat will then be steamed for nearly two hours. Finally, the slices of dried orange peels totally disappeared in broth because of long hours’ stewing. However, its smell has penetrated into every single cell of duck meat. The duck meat is tender and the broth is delicious. All this owes to dried orange peel. 

For many Chinese, bitter is a good part of food and life. It is widely believed that bitterness finishes, sweetness begins. They also believe a perfect life must be companied with various flavors, including bitter. 
---By Sunny (VisitOurChina)



When bitterness ends, sweetness begins. It is bitterness that makes sweetness valuable.


Yeah, all of us should keep this in mind, and keep smilling even if there is a trouble!please keep following us, and your opinion is important!