Monday, April 18, 2011

Garnishing with edibles

There must be a zillion ways out there to garnish food. And to each one, her own (style). We attempted to outline some garnishing tricks and techniques  in our previous posts. For example, we've considered using ingredients of a dish as it's own garnish.

But how about garnishing using edibles that are not a part of the ingredient list? What could these edibles be?  What are some things we should keep in mind while using these edibles as a garnish? Are there any caveats to using certain edibles as a garnish? Are there some edible that would work better for a certain kind of food and some that would not? We all probably know the answers to these questions in the back of our minds. But how often does it strike us 'in the moment'? :)
Welcome to Episode 2 of the Return of the Garnishing Event! Along with Raksha, today, we endeavour to document some original as well as tossed around ideas on garnishing with edibles.

1. Seeds: Seeds can be a great garnish especially for salads. Sprinkling Sunflower seeds, for example, over a bed of spinach salad could be a great addition in terms of both nutrition as well as visual appeal. Sesame seeds, on the other hand, can be used as a garnish for Indian snacks such as Dhoodhi Muthiya or Japanese Sushis. Image on left: Coutesy google search.
Caveat: Not very effective when the colour of the dish itself matches the colour of the seed. Use the Contrasting Charima style to make most of sesame seeds as a garnish. Also, consider the textue of your dish when using seeds as a garnish. Seeds will add a crunch to your dish.

2. Herbs: The ubiquitous freshly chopped coriander leaves go with almost any curry or rice dish. Basil leaves are a perfect garnish for italian and thai dishes. Oregano flakes are a beautiful garnish for roasted potatoes.
Caveat:  Some herbs can have a distinct and strong flavour to it. Use herbs such that it complements or enhances the taste of the dish. Practice the Balancing Act when working with herbs.
3. Citrus: Using lemon or lime as a garnish is a hit when it comes to drinks. Cut wheel of lemon and experiment with Simplicity sensation for an eye catching garnish. Alternatively, try chopping of a lemon wedge and strategically place it on the rim of a glass of gin. Lemon/Lime can be cut in many different permutations and combinations to give a new look each time. Check out this site for some ideas.
Caveat: Be careful on the composition of your dish. Citrus should never be used to garnish milk products.
4. Vegetables: Carved carrots, tomato roses, Fanned spring onions act as a great centerpiece for any dish. Brightly coloured bell peppers can be a spotlight when used as a garnish. Use the shiny and better quality ones to bring out the right effect. If the vegtable you are working with is a green cucumber or zuchini, consider strips, peels, or ribbons. You will be impressed.
Caveat: Cannot be used as a garnish for most desserts. Needs some skills and tools like a sharp knife for successful implementation.
5. Fruits: Strategically shaped fruits are a great accompaniant as well as garnish for ice creams and some cold desserts. Fruits can also be used to garnish drinks. After all what is wrong with splashing around some deep or contrasting colours that add ust the right panache? For example, consider piercing a lychee with a toohpick and lay it over the top of a glass full of martini. Picture on left Courtesy: Google
Caveat: Consider the serving temperature of your dish or drink when using fruits as a garnish. Fruits usually work better with chilled beverages or dishes.
6. Nuts: A winner when it comes to garnishing milk based desserts. Pistachios and milk mased desserts go great. Almonds work better with puddings such as Carrot pudding.
Caveat: Food allergies must be considered when using nuts as a garnish. Also consider blanching, roasting, or using unsalted nuts depending on your dish in question.
7. Milk/yogurt/cream: Dairy is a perfect garnish for most soups and lentil curries. It adds to the richness and creamy texture of the gravy.
Caveats: Cream can double on calories, adding yogurt to a dish can decrease the shelf life of the dish, and milk can lessen the original colour of the dish or dilute the spicy level of your dish.
8. Onions: Both onion rings and chopped green onions work wonders with most Indian vegetables and snacks.
Caveat:The quality of the onion itself. Some onions tend to be more spicy than others. When it comes to garnishing, red onions are a better bet compared to the yellow counterpart. Be careful to not overpower the taste of your main meal when using strongly flavoured onions as a garnish.

Can you think of any other edibles that can be used as a garnish? What are some caveats to these garnishes?


Nandinis food said...

Those are really useful tips! Yummy!

Aruna Manikandan said...

Nice informative post dear...
Thx. for sharing :)

Priya Suresh said...

Very interesting post, thanks for sharing many wonderful tips for garnishing..

Raksha said...

This is a nice write-up

Swanavalli Suresh said...

thank you for this wonderful post

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