Forget millennial pink. Blue is the “in” colour, thanks to the butterfly pea or blue pea flower.
The flower, which is used in food and drink as a natural food colouring and barely has any taste, is commonly seen in Thai, Malay and Peranakan cuisine.
It is said to be full of antioxidants and is touted to improve skin quality, among other health benefits.
In Thai dishes, the ingredient’s colour represents vibrancy. As for Peranakan food, Folklore’s chef Damian D’Silva says that it is used not only to mark certain dishes – such as Nonya Kueh Chang – as Peranakan, but, on a more sombre note, also signifies mourning.
As the same type of kueh can be served at various events – be it weddings or funerals – one should note the colours used, says Peranakan cookbook author Lloyd Matthew Tan. For example, the nine-layer kueh lapis, if coloured blue and white, is meant for funerals.
And if the glutinous rice layer is stained blue throughout for kueh salat, it is meant for funerals. The glutinous rice layer for the kueh is usually white or speckled with blue.
He adds: “Blue is never used in nasi lemak for traditional Peranakans, who serve nasi lemak on the 12th day of the wedding ceremony. The rice must be white to denote the purity of the bride.”
But in the age of social media, hip blue hues are definitely eye-catching and Instagram-worthy. Think everything from blue carbonara to glass noodles to tea – all infused with the blue pea flower extract. Plus, the natural colouring takes on deeper purple and magenta shades when mixed with acid.
If you need a blue space to have blue food and drink, Blue Willow in Clementi Road has got you covered with its Avatar-inspired bistro. It is the sister outlet to the Harry Potter inspired Platform 1094 in Serangoon Road as well as Fresh Fruits Lab in Changi Road.
“We wanted to continue on a fantasy theme and thought that, using the Avatar movie as our inspiration, everything could be blue. We worked closely with our kitchen to ensure that the blue items would be exciting for diners as well,” says owner Kelvin Tan, 34, referring to the 2009 hit film.
So, from the baby blues to indigo to sapphire, The Straits Times has sussed out sweet and savoury items in various shades of blue.
Text: Eunice Quek / The Straits Times / March 2018
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