Oranges, from the citrus family, can be found in numerous dishes in many cultures. Instead of using lemons or limes, oranges are used not only for the hint of tartness but for its sweet flavor. Dried orange peels provide a subtle orange flavor without the sweetness that comes with fresh orange juice.
However, there are many different types of oranges and dried peels. Asian dishes usually calls for tangerine or mandarin peels because they have a thinner peel than a navel orange and have a more intense orange flavor. Do keep in mind that orange peels do retain a lot of the pesticide when used so it’s best to find organic dried orange peels or if you are drying it yourself to buy organic oranges.
Searching for unique pho recipes, I came across one that belongs to a family member. My oldest aunt has a pho recipe that calls for dried tangerine peels. While researching for family pho recipes, I came to the realization that many are not willing to share their “secret” pho blend so I was ecstatic when my oldest aunt told me she would send me a sachet of her pho blend. When the package came, I urgently opened it to reveal what types of spices she used in addition to the dried orange peels — some cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, and tangerine orange peels.
It was a couple of weeks before I could get to making it. Maybe there wasn’t enough tangerine peels but the resulting broth was OK. I didn’t even taste a hint of tangerine. Maybe next time, I’ll use more peels or use my own mix and add tangerine peels.