First and foremost, we eat with our eyes, which is why food styling and presentation can be just as important as the flavours on the plate. Take your home cooking to the next level by following our handy tips for plating food like a pro. Even curries, which are notoriously hard to handle, can be given the restaurant treatment with a few easy modifications.
There’s no point going to the effort of creating beautiful looking food if you’re going to dump it on your old chipped dinnerware. Take the time to consider the plates, including the shape, colour and texture of the ceramics. Think about complementary colours, such as blue and orange, or green and red, to really make your food pop on the plate. These Korean kimchi dumplings are a great example, with some added pep from thin strips of capsicum, and authentic metal chopsticks on the side.
Trust us, we know how hard it is to make a curry look good! When we want to impress our guests (or even just our Instagram followers), we shake things up in the curry-making stakes, creating a luscious curry sauce and balancing our protein on top. This Thai green curry barramundi looks like it’s been plucked from a top Thai restaurant, thanks to its contemporary presentation. The crisp-fried fish fillet sits atop a pool of green curry sauce, garnished with a sail of fried fish skin for visual interest, with the rice and extra vegetables on the side. This method works best for fish and seafood curries, rather than heartier cuts of meat that need hours to braise in the curry sauce.
If you’ve ever watched Donna Hay plate up pasta, you’ll notice that she curls her tongs around the strands, then gently eases the bundle onto the plate to create perfect little coils of pasta. Adopt this method for your Asian noodle recipes for an on-trend presentation, like we’ve done for this salmon steak with soba noodles and wasabi sauce.
Chefs often refer to the face of the clock when plating their meals, placing the protein at 2 o’clock, the vegetables at 6 o’clock and the starch or sauce at 10 o’clock. By defining three distinct sections, like the presentation of these Malaysian satay skewers, you are creating balance on the plate.
Ever noticed how your local Japanese restaurant serves five gyoza, even when you’ve got a table for two or four? It’s not just so you’ll fight over that final dumpling. In many Asian cultures, odd numbers are considered lucky, so serve your dumplings or seafood dishes in sets of three, five or seven (never four, as with many Asian cultures, this has connotations with death). Look to this Chinese tofu recipe for creative presentation inspiration.
So you think there’s not much you can do with a soup? Think again. Rather than serving your soup in a large, deep bowl, where all the goodness is bobbing beneath the surface, choose a smaller or shallower dish, then pile the ingredients up for added visual interest, like this tempting tom yum soup, or this rich khao soi, which gets added height and texture thanks to a garnish of fried wonton strips.
Even the most bland-looking dish can be elevated by effective garnishes. With Asian cuisine, you’re spoiled for choice – use vivid green herbs, a sprinkle of chopped red chilli, or golden peanuts to add vibrancy. For example, shredded kaffir lime, chilli and whole basil leaves add some much-needed contrast to this choo chee salmon recipe.
Practice your plating in preparation for our Lunar New Year Cook Snap & Win competition, launching in 2017.
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