Many people know that there are three essential elements in Chinese cuisine, namely, vibrant colours, aromatic flavours and mouthwatering tastes.
Yes, it does not have to be Chinese food that has these main characteristics – all gourmet food, French, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Spanish, Thai, wherever the origin, they have to smell and taste good. In my book, no matter how simple a dish, it has to look good too.
In Chinese cooking, ‘colour’ comes first of all. It is really a matter of appearance and presentation. It is where ART comes alive. I don’t know about you, but a colourful dish arouses my appetite, especially the ones vibrant with bright and diverse colours. It is not the only reason, but one of the reasons that I always use a lot of red and green chillies in whatever food I am cooking. Check out my Kung Bao chicken – don’t the different colour peppers do wonders for the final presentation of the dish?
I have conducted a number of cultural training sessions over the years, and one of things I enjoy talking about is the difference between British Food and Chinese Food. I hope that my British friends would not be offended by the comparison.
I live in a Bi-cultural household, and I often cook a variety of foods to entertain friends and family. My husband is probably as English as one gets. While he loves his Full English breakfast, baked beans and potato mash, he also adores my brand of Fusion cooking, basically Sichuan style with lots of chillies and Sichuan Peppers, as well as my innovations by taking advantage of other exotic cuisines I love, as long as they are fiery and spicy.
Following a number of healthy debates as to which kinds of food are the best, John and I agreed on one thing: The Brits regard food as Fuel, and the Chinese regard food as Art – we happily include the French and other food lovers into the second category.
As Chinese New Year of 2015 is still under way, I have been eating out a lot, as well as entertaining at home. Recently we have had Tao at home too, and he has been perfecting his dish of Chongqing Chilli Chicken. It is one of our favourite dishes and we always order it when we go to a Sichuan style restaurant.
I have a confession to make: I cannot bake. Guess it’s not totally my fault. I did not grow up in a household with a oven and having desert is not a Chinese tradition.
I love fruit though. So whenever I entertain at home, I always make a big bowl of fresh fruit, mixing some of my favourite fruit on earth: mango, pineapple, grapes, strawberries and whatever tropical fruit in season.
Check out some of these amazing fruit art below, and if you have time, try and do something similar.