Poached Mandarin Oranges with Vanilla Ice Cream

by thomandaimee

(I’m on fire here! Three posts in a row!! But that’s only because *cough* Ned sent me a threatening note this morning *cough*. I had to finish up all the old drafts left sitting on the shelf by today or *cough* certain misfortune might befall me.)

At times, we forget why we wanted to do this or our mantra for local seasonal produce. If you haven’t noticed, we barely focus on any fresh fruits or vegetables this year. With the lack of time to do anything in the kitchen, we wanted to avoid wastage of any sort. Fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood are too perishable to keep up with our schedules. We just finished up our next row of desserts and it features another dry ingredient (it’s coffee, if you need to know). If possible, we would love to return to the good old days where fruits play a major part.

The last time we handled fruit of any sort was after Chinese New Year. (Okay, that was four months ago. Please do not glare at me for being four months late in posting this.) Leftover mandarin oranges was common at most Chinese households after the festive season. These citruses are great on their own but we decided to finish the last batch of oranges with a little touch of Middle Eastern spice.

Unlike the typical oranges, mandarins are a lot more tender with its plump juicy pulp held together with thick with white pith. Some do not like the bitterness of the pith, but we tend to eat them anyway since the mandarins are sweet enough. The lovely thing about mandarins is that you can peel them open with just your hands. Just look at how pretty each segment looks! Like tiny gold Chinese ingots (currency of imperial china)! An interesting cultural fact: mandarin oranges and gold have the same pronunciation in Cantonese. And that’s why we exchange mandarins (or gold) during the New Year.

With that much leftover oranges and our (then) freshly made vanilla ice cream, we turned them into a simple dessert that give the usual citrus a little spicy kick. You can poach the mandarins in their tiny ingots or slice them in a cross-section to create beautiful floral shapes. What we really love is how a few added spice could bring the fruit a waft of fresh air. Instead of the usual saccharine taste of orange, the flavour of the fruit deepened with the vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon. To top it all off, add a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream and dust some chopped pistachios for added crunch – a Chinese tradition with an exotic Middle Eastern twist.

Poached Mandarin Oranges with Vanilla Ice Cream
By Thom & Aimee

Serves 2

160ml water
70ml sugar
7 cardamom pods, split
1/3 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
2 mandarins, peeled and sliced
Chopped pistachios, to serve


Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the water, sugar, cardamom seeds and cinnamon in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase to high heat and boil uncovered for 5 minutes, or until the syrup reduces and thickens slightly.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the mandarins. Cook, uncovered for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the mandarins in the syrup for 5 minutes to finish poaching.

Remove the mandarins from syrup and continue to boil the syrup to reduce into a thick consistency.

To serve, place poached mandarins on a plate, drizzle spiced syrup over the mandarins. Then pop a huge scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream to top it off and sprinkle chopped pistachios all over.