Botanical taxonomy is a very interesting sphere. Reading citrus classification is a pure delight per se. All those species, cultivars and hybrids of the Citrus genera is really a mind-blowing thing. Without diving into the excessive complexity, let’s just say that there are true species that gave birth to myriads of other commercial cultivars. Mandarin orange is one of those progenitors that, among others, generated the tangerine group hybrids. The name ‘tangerine’ implies that this mandarin variety was first used for fruit that came from Tangier, the city of Morocco. When you cross tangerines with pomelos you have hybrids named tangelos or honeybells as they are also called. This moniker comes from the characteristic “nipple” at the stem and their sweetness. The tangor is a hybrid of the tangerine and the sweet orange. Citrus naming is kinda fun, huh?
One of the oldest and once most popular tangerine varieties, now very rarely sold, is Dancy tangerine – an intense, sweet flavoured fruit with a pliable peel that made it popular as a bright compliment to dishes like spicy Chinese tangerine beef. To cook it, you’ll need a nicely stocked oriental pantry, but once you have everything, the cooking process is pretty straightforward. Combine 3 Tbsp of soy sauce with 1 Tbsp of cornstarch in a plastic bag, add 500 g / 1 lb of steak, sliced into thin strips on the bias, 1 Tbsp of minced ginger, mix well, cover, and let marinate for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Then whisk together 2 Tbsp of honey, 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of dry cooking wine, 2 Tbsp of hoisin sauce, 1 Tbsp of chili sauce, and juice from 2 medium tangerines. Heat 3 Tbsp of neutral oil in a pan over high heat and add the beef, cooking for 3-4 minutes, then add the sauce mixture and continue cooking for 3 more minutes until it thickens. Serve and eat immediately. If you don’t want to eat meat, you can easily substitute scallops for steak in this recipe. Take 500 g / 1 lb of mollusks and toss them in a sealable bag in place of beef – or simply use tofu.
The good news is that you can use tangerine in any recipe where mandarin, clementine, or orange is used. Citruses are pretty interchangeable. Even better news is our adaptable salad where you could use literally any greens from radicchio to iceberg lettuce. Just toss 150 g / 5 oz of greens of your choice with the same amount by weight of tangerines, 30 g / 1 oz of ricotta cheese, ⅓ cup of roasted nuts (walnuts, pistachios, or almonds will do just fine). Whisk together vinaigrette from the juice of one tangerine, 2 Tbsp of red wine vinegar, 4 Tbsp of olive oil and some minced garlic for extra pungency. Mix until everything is nicely coated and there you go – a nutty citrusy autumn salad at its best.