Tangerine Beef

February 21, 2023

The beef with tangerine flavoring is very flavorful. You’ve probably seen tangerine beef in various forms at various Chinese restaurants, but the version I tried for the first time will be the inspiration for the recipe I’m sharing with you today.

The aromatic dried tangerine peels and candied slivers of tangerine peel that should accompany each bite of beef are essential to a good plate of tangerine beef.

Oranges and tangerines are good omens in China because their names sound similar to the words for success and luck, respectively. That’s why you’ll see so many oranges, tangerines, and other citrus fruits during the Chinese New Year. The importance of phonetics and language in Chinese superstitions and traditions should be addressed. This recipe is new to our ever-expanding stockpile of Chinese New Year fare.

I hope you have a fantastic New Year, and I hope you enjoy this one!


  • 1 lb. of flank steak (thinly sliced against the grain)
  • 2 tsp. of oil (divided)
  • 1 tbsp. of (plus 1/4 cup cornstarch)
  • 2 pcs. of fresh tangerines or mandarin oranges
  • 1 tbsp. of sugar
  • 1 tbsp. of hot water
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (for frying the beef)
  • 1/2 tsp. of ginger (minced)
  • 1 pc. of small pod from a whole star anise (if need be, substitute with a pinch of five spice powder)
  • 5 pcs. of dried tangerine or mandarin orange peels
  • 5 pcs. of dried red chili peppers (optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp. of light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. of cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water, cornstarch slurry)
  • 2 scallions (cut into 1-inch slices on the diagonal)


  1. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to a bowl and set aside to marinate the beef for 1 hour. To get rid of any wax or pesticides, gently scrub the tangerines with a vegetable brush in running water. Get 1/3 cup of juice out of the tangerines, and save the peels for later.
  2. In order to cut julienne strips, the peels must first have as much of the white pith removed as possible. Combined with the juice, put aside. Then, combine 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of hot water to make a simple syrup.
  3. Slivered tangerine peel and 1 teaspoon of oil should be heated in a low saucepan or wok. Toss the peels in the oil for about 30 seconds to lightly toast them, then stir in the simple syrup. The peels must be stirred until the simple syrup evaporates and sticks to them. The candied peels should be placed in a bowl with the infused oil.
  4. Heat a third cup of oil in a clean wok over high heat, and then dredge the meat in the remaining 1/4 cup of cornstarch until lightly coated. Spread the flank steak pieces out evenly in the wok just before the oil starts to smoke, and let them sear for 1 minute. After 30 seconds, turn the steak over and repeat the process on the other side. Put on a baking sheet and tilt it to one side so the oil can drain (lean it on a cookbook or cutting board). The beef needs to be seared so that it develops a crusty exterior.
  5. Turn on the heat to medium-high and reheat the oil you drained from the wok. Toss in the dried tangerine peels and chili flakes, if using, along with the ginger, star anise, five spice powder, and any other spices you’d like. (Though our photos feature an entire star anise, the recipe calls for just one pod. The whole star anise might have been too much for the dish after we tasted it.
  6. Throw in some garlic after 15 seconds. Add the soy sauce, tangerine juice, and brown sugar and stir for another 10 seconds. Achieve a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  7. While the sauce is simmering, gradually stir in the cornstarch slurry mixture with a fork until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Toss the beef, scallions, and candied tangerine slices in the infused oil. Continue tossing the ingredients for 30 seconds until the beef is evenly coated.
  8. The sauce should adhere to the beef, and almost no liquid should be left. Extra heat and some stir-frying time should do the trick if there’s still too much sauce. Thicker sauces can be thinned with boiling water.
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