Chinese Cuisine: Taste the Rainbow

Chinese Cuisine

Taiwanese coloured dumplings made of natural food colours.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Who doesn’t like Chinese cuisine? I love it, even though I live in Taipei, which is filled with amazing diversity of fantastic restaurants from different cultures. What I really love is the simple and traditional tastes of home cooking, but I also appreciate the efforts of many chefs that seek to create increasingly complex dishes and push the boundaries in search of uniqueness. In this article we will look at new and creative Chinese cuisine that exploits the vibrancy of natural food colouring stimulating your vision and imagination.

Patient Healthy Diet

Chinese cuisine is known to take time, care and considerable effort with many steps. Traditional diet culture in China has many pillars. In addition to colour, smell and taste, dietary cure or dietary therapy is an important part of the medicinal value of food. Through a variety of delicious dishes, one can strive towards the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Are you ready for the colourful slow food?

Eat Dumplings, Eat Rainbows!

Mr. Dumpling, has been a popular food company in Taiwan for many years. The founder of Mr. Dumpling emerged from a creative dumpling competition in 2009 and soon afterwards began to develop different colours for dumpling wrappers, with a special stuffing. Following his successful business more and more food companies and restaurants have started up in the area with similar ideas.

Chinese Cuisine

The soup dumplings, eight-colour Xialongbao, made of natural food colours, by Paradise Group.

There are so many unique colours for dumplings in Taiwan, here are just a selection that are currently popular: Dark Green dumplings, the wrapper contains a mixture of spinach and has leeks as stuffing; Green dumplings, have an algae wrapper and celery with squid as stuffing; Orange dumplings, with a carrot wrapper and shrimp as stuffing; Yellow dumplings with a pumpkin wrapper and corn as stuffing; Beige dumplings, have a soy bean wrapper and scallops as stuffing; Purple dumplings with a yam wrapper and chicken as stuffing; Black dumplings use a squid ink wrapper and abalone as stuffing; and finally Red dumplings, with a wrapper made from red yeast rice and kimchi as stuffing. These fantastic colours dazzle you like a rainbow and it is even more enjoyable knowing that all the ingredients are healthy and nutritious.

Amazing Xiao Long Bao, the Heaven of Taste Buds

Xiao Long Bao, a steamed dumpling stuffed with juicy pork, is the most famous Chinese dish in the world according to an American chef and food writer, Christopher (Christopher St. Cavish) who conducted a study for the Shanghai Soup Dumpling Index covering 52 restaurants in 16 months.

Coincidentally, I recently visited Paradise Dynasty in Shanghai, part of the Singapore Paradise Group, where the signature dish is an eight-colour Xiao Long Bao. There are eight colours with eight very different flavours, including original juicy pork, ginseng, foie gras, black truffles, cheese, crab meat, garlic and spice. Each flavour is as distinctive as the bright colours with the tastes ranging from light to strong that progressively challenge the taste buds.

I started with the white wrapper and juicy pork filling with chicken soup quickly followed by a Green spinach wrapper filled with yam, ginseng, wolfberries and seven other boiled Chinese herbs. There was also Brown soy wrapper filling with French foie gras adding in red wine; Black squid ink wrapper filling with black wild truffle and mushrooms; Yellow millet wrapper filling with cheese, pork meat mixed with cheddar cheese and mozzarella; Orange sweet potatoes wrapper filling with crab meat and crab egg; Gray squid wrapper filling with garlic ground pork and garlic tablets and Red beetroot wrapper filling with spicy oil and pepper all of which were full of wonderfully strong flavours, which were washed down with some fresh Chinese tea. All the visuals, smells and tastes remain permanently fixed in my mind!

Soy Milk is not White Milk

Soy milk, is not milk, it is the tofu tasting drink made from soybeans. Most Chinese people prefer to drink soy milk rather than cow’s milk for breakfast. A small new store called Mini Bean has recently emerged and is famous in Taiwan. The owner of this store created several new variations of soy milk in different colours using all natural ingredients. The company is run by three ladies who spent a whole year searching for natural methods to cultivate soybeans native to Taiwan. They then developed colourful soy milk made of grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, without using any chemical additives, in order to achieve the simplest and most healthy flavours including sesame, beet, celery, sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, ginger juice and purple sweet potato.

Chinese Cuisine

Colourful Soy Milk made of soy beans, fresh fruit, vegetables and colour grains, by Mini Bean in Taiwan.

Mini Bean have also developed soy ice cream, soy breads, soy muffins and soy cookies. The diet in Mini Bean is vegetarian-oriented, it is an excellent healthy restaurant recommended in Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Chinese Cuisine

Parts of fresh colour grains are important nutrition ingredients in our daily life.

From Bubble to Pinball

Bubble milk tea, is also known as milk tea with tapioca balls and is now an internationally recognised Taiwanese snack and one of the most famous beverages in the world. Mr. Wang, the boss of LAIZER tea house in Taiwan, created a new kind of bubble milk tea, called “Pinball Milk Tea”. Mr. Wang’s inspiration came from playing pinball, a memory from a most pure and simple childhood. Of course there are also many other colours of inball including pearl yellow, white, purple, green and pink. Mr. Wang developed these new colours by fresh ingredients: Carrot, Caramel, Taro, Chlorophyll and Roselle.

Chinese Cuisine

Bubble Milk Tea is now popular in multi-colour bubbles.

In order to make a perfect golden ratio combination of tapioca beans, tea and milk, Mr. Wang kept researching and finally decided the recipe of base tea by Cold-brewage Assam tea mixed with premium milk to present a sweet smooth taste.

Chinese Cuisine

Colourful Pinball Milk Tea famous in Taiwan, by Laizer tea house.

Colour Therapy: not only Psychology but also Physiology

Colours, around our life, have the ability to guide and affect our emotions. We are visually stimulated by vibrant colours that have a sensory and mental therapeutic effect. The same thing happens to our bodies as colourful food materials contain phytochemicals that can be very good for us.

Chinese Cuisine

Coloured Rice is now developed in more fresh colours in the creative Chinese cuisine in Taiwan.

Do you know what phytochemical are? They are compounds of good quality and colour from naturally occurring food, such as soybean isoflavone (Isoflavones), tomatoes lycopene (Lycopene), green tea catechins (Catechins), blueberry anthocyanin… and so on. In recent years scientists have discovered that these colourful biochemicals from plants are not only antioxidant, eliminating free radicals, but also complement other vitamins to play an effective physiological function. There are thousands of phytochemicals present in colourful fruits and vegetables but broadly fall into 6 colours: green, orange, white, red, blue and purple.

  • Green fruits and vegetables: Protect and brighten eyes, good for bones and teeth.
  • Orange fruits and vegetables: Make skin more elastic, protect eyesight and enhance immunity.
  • White fruits and vegetables: Maintain normal blood pressure, lower cholesterol, anti-inflammatory and maintain stable blood sugar.
  • Red fruits and vegetables: Protect the heart and have anti-aging effects.
  • Purple fruits and vegetables: Enhance memory and protect the urinary system.

When you know each colour and its physiological effect you can choose colours of fruits and vegetables, to build a healthy foundation to your body. Let’s enjoy the fun with colourful fruits and vegetables: start your healthy, colourful life!

Photography by: Chiani Lin; Mr.dumpling; Paradise Group; Mini Bean and Laizer tea house.
Chiani Lin About the author

An aspiring and fresh trend forecaster from Asia, with multiple master degrees related to fashion in Italy, UK and Taiwan as well as 12 years of working experience in the fashion industry. Currently working for an international sourcing company, Chiani is passionate about all things creative from different cultures.