Last Updated: May 13, 2018
Butterfly pea, or blue pea flower, is a superfood that has long been used in Asia as a food colouring and for its rich antioxidant value, especially in Peranakan culture, where traditional kueh salat uses butterfly pea to stain the rice blue.
These days, the hype over attractive blue butterfly pea food is exploding island-wide. Here are 10 blue food items joining the butterfly pea superfood craze.
Let’s dive straight into the blue with Lagoon in a Bowl‘s Norwegian Salmon Rice Bowl ($10)! This hawker stall at Amoy Street Food Centre is creating waves with their vibrant bowl that uniquely features a ‘sea’ of gorgeous blue pea rice.
Infused with butterfly pea flower tea, the extract lends its bright hue to the rice, and adds antioxidants for a healthier bite. And what better to ‘swim’ in the ‘sea’ of blue rice than a sous vide salmon with yummy mentaiko sauce?
Lagoon in a Bowl: 7 Maxwell Road, Amoy Street Food Centre, #01-48, Singapore 069111 | Tel: +65 9119 2619 | Opening Hours: (Monday to Saturday) 11am – 3pm, Closed on Sundays | Facebook
Jia Xiang Nasi Lemak (家香椰浆饭) is my favourite nasi lemak at the moment. Located in an obscure industrial area in Lavender, this hidden gem is worth the trip.
This plate of artisan nasi lemak certainly caught my eye! Following the stall owners’ grandmother’s recipe, they used 100% natural butterfly pea flower extract to stain the rice a beautiful indigo.
What really impressed me was that the rice wasn’t drenched in coconut milk, yet it was still very fragrant. I actually found myself scooping up all the rice!
Look out for Jia Xiang Nasi Lemak’s absolutely divine Rendang Chicken Set ($5.50) that is only available two days a week. The chicken was tender and came with a buttery, creamy rendang curry that had me wanting more.
Finish off your meal with Butterfly Blue Pea Tea (add-on $1). Accented with floral hints, the drink was refreshing and cleansed the palate after the meal. It has less sugar and is rich in antioxidants so bottoms up!
Jia Xiang Nasi Lemak: 114 Lavender Street, CT Hub 2, #01-08/09, Singapore 338729 | Tel: +65 8188 6325 | Opening Hours: (Monday to Friday) 10am – 3pm, (Saturday) 11am – 3pm, Closed on Sundays | Facebook
The butterfly pea magic comes to life in these multi-coloured bottles from The Talad Drink & Thai Kitchen. Brimming with psychedelic hues, these Instagram-worthy drinks were all the rage at Singapore’s first Artbox event. And they are just as delicious as they look.
The An Chan ($3.80) series features three tiers of colours that use butterfly pea for the bold hues. If the colours don’t impress you, try shaking them to change their colour!
It isn’t magic, it’s the complicated science of butterfly pea which turns deep violet when mixed with the drink’s acidity. Hurry and get a bottle that’s guaranteed to get your friends’ attention!
The Talad Drink & Thai Kitchen: 190 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #01-520, Singapore 310190 | Tel: +65 9105 0555 | Opening Hours: (Daily) 11am – 9pm | Facebook
Butterfly pea flowers are boiled to extract the colour before the vermicelli is blanched in the blue water. The aromatic curry had flavours from fresh turmeric, betel leaf, curry paste and coconut milk, making it just the thing to pair with the beautiful blue vermicelli.
Have you heard of this up-and-coming bubble tea shop, Bobii Frutii? Their most popular drink, the intriguing Mermaid’s Tears ($5.90), is an ice-blended beverage that uses butterfly pea to give it a layering that is Insta-worthy.
More than just a pretty cup, the flavours also balanced well. The yellow layer had a sweet mango taste, with some zesty lemon flavour. Meanwhile, the blue butterfly pea layer was sweeter with the addition of honey.
Even the pearls in the cup are made from butterfly pea! Due to the ice-blended layers, the bobii is actually at the top of the cup, so mix them in to get a bit in each sip. The blue ‘butterfly pea’ bobii were also nice and chewy.
Let’s look back at one of the earliest uses of butterfly pea, traditional kueh salat. Check out Milk Moons at Takashimaya Food Hall, which sells off-the-counter cake delights that are all Asian-inspired.
Milk Moons’ bestselling Kueh Salat ($5.80 for a slice, $69 for whole cake) definitely does the traditional Nyonya recipe justice. The slice was massive, with two thick tiers of kaya custard and blue pea-stained glutinous rice.
The glutinous rice layer was cooked very well and had a strong pandan fragrance. The blue pea rice had only a touch of coconut milk to harmoniously balance out the sweeter kaya custard.
I applaud Milk Moons for serving up homier traditional Asian desserts. The nostalgic cakes here can be enjoyed by all generations.
Milk Moons: 391 Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City, Takashimaya Food Hall, #B208-5, Singapore 238872 | Opening Hours: (Daily) 10am – 9.30pm | Website
Perhaps the best place to find blue food is at our resident blue cafe, Blue Willow in Clementi. This Avatar-themed cafe serves everything blue, from blue carbonara to blue burgers.
And the latest food to join their blue menu is a gorgeous blue velvet Waffle + Gelato ($8.90). Using the butterfly pea extract, the waffles were a striking blue all the way to the core.
In particular, I really loved the blue ‘caviar’ on top, which is actually blue sago. Infused with maple syrup, the chilled sago added a distinct sweetness that complemented the waffles.
Blue Willow: 28 Clementi Road, Singapore 129754 | Tel: +65 6803 7472 | Opening Hours: (Tuesday to Friday) 12noon – 12midnight, (Saturday & Sunday) 11am – 12midnight, Closed on Mondays | Facebook
Spanish tapas restaurant FOC Pim Pam is our new favourite Friday night haunt. And what better way to liven up the night than with this impressive butterfly pea-infused cocktail?
Called the Imperial Pigeonwings ($19++), this cocktail refers to the Asian pigeonwing (a more chic name for butterfly pea flower).
Mixed with tequila, rum and peach liqueur, this drink is strong yet very refreshing with a touch of lemon and sparkling grapefruit. Just the thing to kickstart your night at FOC Pim Pam!
FOC Pim Pam: 442 Orchard Road, #01-29, Singapore 238879 | Tel: +65 6100 4242 | Opening Hours: (Monday to Thursday & Sunday) 12noon – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm, (Friday & Saturday) 12noon – 3pm, 5pm – 1am | Website | Facebook
Get more of the butterfly pea’s shade of blue with this late-night ice cream shop, Apiary. This is the place to satiate all your late night sweet cravings with their vibrant ice cream selection.
The flavours here are exotic, and a unique one is Apiary’s Blue Milk ($3.90 for cup, $4.90 for cone). This luscious blue scoop is made with blue pea flower, milk and sea salt, and was surprisingly not too sweet.
While the blue pea did little flavour-wise, this was a really appetising blue for ice cream. Come and get lucky with this rare blue find!
Local bespoke bar, Native, is famous for its innovative cocktails with locally-foraged ingredients. It’s no wonder that the blue flower extract has found its way into one of Native’s cocktails.
Native’s Peranakan ($23++) is their modern take on the Peranakan dessert, kueh salat. This classy cocktail consists of jackfruit rum, laksa leaves, candlenut, pandan and even goat milk from Singapore’s Hay Dairies Farm.
Science geeks will be thrilled to know the enzymes in jackfruit split the milk apart, forming the elegant, clear beverage.
But the main star is still the ‘kueh salat’ jelly served atop the giant ice cube. The leftover milk curd is mixed with coconut and pandan to make the jelly, then stained with butterfly pea to give it its alluring blue. The darker blue layer is agar, which beautifully contrasts the lighter blue mousse-like curd layer.
Flavours-wise, the rum was very smooth, with bright tropical flavours from the jackfruit and refreshing citrus notes. Take a bite of the sweet ‘kueh salat’ with a sip of the rum cocktail for maximum pleasure.
So if you’re feeling blue after reading this article, then check out these 10 brilliant blue dishes + drinks. The butterfly pea trend has just taken flight so arm yourself with your phone camera, take some pics and paint your feed a new shade of blue!