Kaishui baicai or steamed Chinese cabbage in supreme soup is literally ‘wombok in boiled water’, but as with many famous Chengdu foods, the simple name disguises a more complex dish. Like Sichuan Chicken Tofu Pudding, this is a Sichuan dish that bucks the trend that Chengdu is synonymous with only hot, spicy food. Not at all spicy and ‘numbing’, kaishui baicai is also a dish that is regularly included on state banquet menus; a fact hardly surprising given that it was the creation of a chef from the Qing dynasty imperial kitchen.
While kaishui baicai is not China’s most famous dish, it certainly ranks high. The reason? Well, it’s the broth, or diao tang, which translates loosely as ‘broth of increasing flavor’. Western diners know of it as consommè, which is clarified egg white, however, diao tang is clarified using minced meat, generally a combination of chicken and pork.
As an expensive and somewhat exclusive dish – it’s the supreme soup after all – visitors to Chengdu are likely to find kaishui baicai only in fine dining restaurants, which is why we recommend you dial in with your local guide for the best locations to make this dish a beautiful travel memory for you.