Peeling an orange releases a natural oil that coats the fingers with citrus fragrances, stimulating the fruit inside. The floral and succulent segments are easy to love, but the bottom line is in between, not so much.
In its raw state, the white pulp has a very unpleasant bitter taste, but that bitterness is what makes eating the whole orange so worthwhile. Normally, the shell is intended for the trash, but it is potentially delicious. When simmered until tender, it absorbs the flavors of the cooking liquid while keeping the razor sharp edge – just enough to cut through the simple sweetness of the fruit and bring out some floral notes.
Using a whole orange is a smart move for dessert, because you can candy it whole or mix it in cake powder, but it also tastes great in savory dishes. Explicit example: orange chicken from Panda Express (and now, most Chinese takeaway restaurant). Although there are no orange pieces among the fried chicken balls in spicy and sour sauce, the popular American Chinese dish inspired by Chinese dishes uses the fruit itself.
Nearly 35 years ago, chef Andy Kao joined Andrew Cherng, the company’s founder and president, for Panda Express’s first Hawaii location. They draw inspiration from many things, including local flavors, like sautéed Sichuan beef with dried tangerine peel, Taiwanese fried chicken, and sweet and sour flavors from the Jiangsu region, China.
“The concept of using citrus as an aromatic substance is really a traditional principle in Chinese cooking,” said Andrea Cherng, the company’s brand manager. (I attended high school with Miss Cherng.)
Like many American Chinese dishes – indeed, most dishes – a recipe is born from overlapping influences, even if it has a distinct origin story. The road to making a meal is not a straight road, it is a zigzag road.
For this orange roasted chickenOne of my Chinese American recipes, the takeaway version is just an inspiration.
Another variety is the whole tangerine, which lends itself to all the ingredients of the dish and has a thin skin that loses its bitterness faster than oranges. After certain fruits are juiced to make soy yeast, their spent skins are stuffed into the chicken. Adding more mandarin seeds cooked with the bird in the same pan, their intestines softened in the sauce painted over the bird.
The skin eventually turns dark brown and the flesh is silky soft, reminiscent of Cantonese soy sauce chicken I was raised. I love the dried Chinese tangerine peels so much, their vermilion pieces are as curved as petals but hard as the bark of a tree, I wanted the sweetness of fresh fruit in this preparation. You don’t have to eat tangerines in a pan, but if you do, with a piece of yeasted chicken, you’ll experience a surprisingly bitter taste balanced with the simple pleasures of salty, sweet, and sour.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/dining/orange-roasted-chicken.html Fresh orange chicken