At the end of the day it is all about the taste, but an attractively plated meal adds to the joy of eating a well crafted meal. Drawing you in, inviting you to pick at it, take a taste and dive in. In a series of articles, we will be taking inspiration from the professional kitchen to come up with simple ways to help you plate food like a pro.
Most of us do not have the time, equipment or training to put together multicomponent dishes. The kind that inspires awe when eating out.
However if we think a little about the composition of a dish, using a few simple steps, it is easy up your food presentation.
Want to try? Let’s start at the basics- this week we are talking about the planning and the ingredient that make meal presentation easy.
What is the star ingredient?
This may sound obvious, but you need a starting point to plan what is being plated and how to style its presentation.
Plan your meal with intention – you want your meal to be nutritionally balanced. Is there a core protein? If it is dessert, perhaps a fruit is the signature flavour in your dish.
What are the sides that will go well with your star ingredient? Your core ingredient will dictate the flavours and give ideas on how to plate the dish.
In this dish, the steak is the main focus. The potato and carrot rosti offers a crunchy and tasty base and we added kimchi for a cold, tangy topping that adds strong flavour and a contrast of temperature.
Go with the seasons.
You want good quality ingredients, maximum flavour so try to stick to what is in season as best you can. Somewhat harder in Winter when you live in colder climes. Yet matching your season is not only better for flavour but also sustainability.
Think outside the box – use herb and spices to help the components of your dish bring base notes of your ingredients together. We like the Flavour Thesaurus and the Flavour Bible to inspire interesting matches. Examples –
Adding lime flavours to a banana and chocolate cake.
Pairing a pumpkin veloute (soup) with chilli and lime roasted seeds and apple matchsticks.
A little colour –
We are all for keeping things understated, but a pop of colour makes a dish look pretty.
The strands of bright orange saffron on this poached quince crumble.
Edible flowers on this barbecued tofu salad.
The segment of orange on this blood orange posset makes this dessert look stunning. From Jeanne at Cook Sister.
Contrasts in texture and temperature
Plan your meal to offer some variation in textures and if you can, give some interest by mixing hot and cold. The pumpkin veloute is a good example. The thinly sliced, raw sticks of slightly sour apple, on a hot soup with spicy roasted seeds. A very simple recipe to prepare, yet the resulting soup a contrast of smooth, crunch and crisp when eating. What you want is to be exciting all the senses when you want to plate a professionally inspired dish.
Soup toppers are an easy way to get started on playing with textures and flavours. Another idea is this one from Ren Behan – a beetroot and kale soup with a crunchy kale and almond crumble topping.
This warm salad of Freekeh and sautéed cucumber with pomegranate seeds is a great example of mixing up flavours, textures and temperatures from Kellie at Food to Glow
Check out the next article in this series where we look at the plating of food, how to prepare your plate and tools that help achieve a nice finish.
Do you have any tips for how you plan a special meal? how to make it memorable? Share your thoughts in the comments below!