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The Honey Tangerine

In the last month, if you've been shopping for oranges and tangerines, you may have noticed the Honey Tangerine or Murcott. This was one of my mother's favorite because of it's rich flavor and juiciness. The skin tends to be tight, so I use a paring knife to help start the peeling process. My mother liked to air dry the fragrant peels and use them in cooking. You'll see that the peels have very little white pith. The only downside to the Honey Tangerine is that they have lots of seeds and a fairly heavy membrane, but their sweetness and juiciness are incomparable.

The Honey Tangerine season is starting to wind down, but you can still find them in the marketplace. I look for ones with tight, smooth and shiny skins because they tend to be the juiciest. I also dry some of the skins like my mother used to do. Makes me think of her.

So, if you haven't discovered this delicious tangerine variety start looking for them now. You'll be glad you did!


  1. Glad to read your rich descriptions and hear about your mother's legacy. Keep up the good work.

  2. Tammie TanMarch 30, 2011

    Helen, the website looks great! I'm a huge citrus fruit fan. We just came home from a vacation in Florida, so it's nice to read about tangerines! They had huge piles of tangerines at all the Citrus Centers along I-75, but unfortunately you're not permitted to bring fresh produce across the border. Anyway, chen-pi chicken is a great dish, and I'm also learning to use orange zest ... All the best,

    Tammie (Toronto)


Share your comments, questions and Asian cuisine experiences here.


Like so many of us, Helen Chen learned to cook at her mother's side. But few of us had a mother like Joyce Chen. Helen grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her mother prepared the authentic dishes of her native Shanghai and Beijing with the sort of regularity the rest of us came to expect of macaroni and cheese or meatloaf.

"I remember when I was little, watching my mother prepare meals for family and friends. I once wrote a list of my favorite Chinese dishes," Helen recalls, "I came up with 150 recipes. I do not have one or two favorites. All the dishes on the list are traditional and all are ones that I learned from my mother. That is what I love most about Chinese food: its variety. Taste, texture and color all come into play, as does personality and culture. I think this is what cooking is all about."

Soft spoken and intensely intelligent, Helen Chen was born in Shanghai and moved to the U.S. with her family while still a baby. Helen grew up, as she describes it, in a traditional Chinese-American household. "When I was young I wanted to be totally American," she remembers. "It wasn't until I was in high school that I realized how lucky I was to have two cultures."

Today, Helen Chen is a widely acknowledged expert in Chinese cooking. Besides her role as an educator and cookbook author, she also is a corporate spokesperson and business consultant to the house wares industry. In 2007 she created and developed a new line of Asian kitchenware under the brand name Helen’s Asian Kitchen®, expressly for Harold Import Company in New Jersey.

Having been born in China and raised and educated in the United States, Helen brings the best of both worlds to her approach to the art of Chinese cuisine. She understands the needs of the American cook as only a native can, yet she is intimately knowledgeable in the culinary practices and philosophy of China.

In her active role as a teacher and educator, Helen teaches Chinese cuisine at Boston University; and, through the Anderson Foundation’s enrichment program ‘Cooking Up Culture’ she teaches Boston area school children from grades 1-12 about Chinese cuisine and culture. She also teaches Asian cuisine in numerous cooking schools across the country.

Helen has lectured to various professional and culinary organizations such as the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Boston University Seminars in the Arts and Culinary Arts, Oldways Preservations and Exchange Trust, Small Business Development Center, The Culinary Historians of Boston, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and the Culinary Guild of New England. In addition, she conducts culinary tours of Boston’s Chinatown and is a frequent guest chef at cooking schools around the U.S.

Helen is the author of Helen Chen’s Chinese Home Cooking (Hearst Books, 1994), Peking Cuisine (Orion Books,1997) and Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Chinese Stir-Fries (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). A second book in the Helen’s Asian Kitchen series, Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Asian Noodles is scheduled for publication in January, 2010.