Advanced Culinary Techniques and Plating
Unlock the art of advanced culinary techniques and elevate your dishes to new heights through expert plating. Explore the world of gastronomy with precision and creativity.
Are you hungry? Are you tired of eating what torments your palate? Do you want to eat delicacies that make your taste buds tingle? Are you tired of eating conventional dishes and want to try something new? If you are, fasten your seatbelts as we delve into the world of the Culinary Arts?
Technological advancements are being made in various fields and sectors of the economy daily, and the Culinary Sector is no exception. Good chefs always experiment with flavor combinations to create exciting and novel dishes. These flavor combinations are often used as a starting point for creating unique dishes. Hence the creation of Advanced Culinary Techniques.
A major part of becoming an expert in cooking is understanding the basics. If a chef lacks a solid foundation, he/she will find adding layers of flavors, techniques, and advanced skills difficult. But, if the chef is well grounded in culinary basics, he/she can step up his/her game by moving on to advanced cooking methods.
Flavor combinations play a vital role in this. These flavors can be combined in endless ways to create different taste experiences. Sweet and sour, Salty and peppery, Spicy and sweet, Savory and sweet, and Bitter and sweet are the most popular flavor combinations.
Advanced Culinary Techniques
The advanced culinary techniques in the 21st Century include but are not limited to the following:
This is a relatively new field of cuisine that uses science to create unique and fascinating dishes. It involves using scientific experimentation to deconstruct food to its simplest elements and reconstruct it in new and unexpected ways. The most popular Molecular Gastronomy techniques include:
Sous Vide is a French term translated as “Under Vaccum”. This advanced culinary technique involves sealing food in an airtight bag or sealed bag with any desired seasoning and cooking it in a water bath, i.e., a pot of simmering water at an exact temperature. This gives an exceptionally tender and flavourful result, thus resulting in a perfect, evenly cooked meal every time.
In cooking Sous Vide, the following steps should be followed:
- Season Your Food: This can be done by marinating the food beforehand or with a dry rub.
- Preheat your water bath to the desired temperature using the Sous-Vide Cooker.
- Vacuum-seal your food in a plastic bag or container.
- Lower the bagged or containerized food into the preheated water bath or pot of simmering water and clip it to the pot’s side so it remains submerged.
- Cook for the desired time, usually much longer than you would cook traditionally since there is no risk of overcooking.
- Remove from the water bath or pot of simmering water, quick-chill if desired, or serve immediately.
This cooking method can be used for Meat, Fish, Vegetables, and even Desserts. The greatest benefit of the Sous Vide cooking technique and its advantage over other culinary techniques, such as Roasting, Grilling, Sautéing, etc., is the lack of guesswork regarding cooking time.
While Grilling, Roasting, and Sautéing typically involve checking meat with a thermometer or piercing potatoes with a fork, Sous Vide allows chefs to obtain perfectly cooked ingredients without poking or prodding.
This is arguably the most commonly used and seen molecular Gastronomy technique. It uses chemical reactions to trap liquid ingredients with a fragile, tasteless membrane, forming clear “beads” that look like pearls or caviar eggs. This technique is based on the reaction between calcium chloride and alginate, two substances that gel together when mixed.
It is sometimes known as Foams and Airs. They are used in molecular Gastronomy to add an extra touch of flavor to a dish. They are super light, so they can’t be eaten; rather, the foam dissolves in your mouth, enveloping your taste buds in a flavor that disappears seemingly into thin air. This technique is not difficult to master, as it mainly relies on using a hand blender to mix your ingredients of choice with soy lecithin, strawberries, balsamic foam, citrus air, chive foam, etc.
This is one of the more intricate molecular Gastronomy techniques. It relies on jellifying agents such as Agar Agar or Carrageenan. The purpose is to turn liquids into a more solid state. This allows the chef/cook to serve typically liquid dishes in a more solid, new, and unpredictable manner.
This molecular Gastronomy technique uses “meat Glue”, technically known as “Transglutaminase,” a tasteless enzyme that can bind protein-rich foods like meat together. It comes in the form of a powder that is brushed into the two sides of meat to bind, which are then pressed tightly together for certain periods to fully set.
This is usually used for fragrant spices, while whole spices like cumin seeds and cardamom pods bring warming flavors to any dish; heating these spices in a pan takes their aroma to a whole new level.
Another way of getting a similar effect is to fry those spices in a hot fat, like oil or ghee. Blooming spices in fat is called chauk, also called Bagbar or Tadka. This culinary technique originated in India and parts of the Middle East. Different regions have their preferred sources of fat and a combination of spices. The common ones are Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Mustard seeds, Fennel, and fresh aromatics like Onions, Ginger, Chiles, and Garlic.
This is used for creative layering. This culinary technique has existed for hundreds of years, all the way back to the Middle Ages. Some savory engastration creations include;
- A Goose stuffed with a Duck stuffed with a Quail (popular in the 19th Century).
- A Turkey stuffed with a Duck stuffed with a Chicken.
- Cherpumple contains three pies (Cherry, Pumpkin, and Apple), all stacked and cooked inside a Cake.
Engastration is a special culinary technique that, though complicated, irrefutably leads to the creation of impressive desserts and entrees.
The way you plate and present your food has a big impact on the consumer’s experience. We eat with our senses. i.e., what we see, smell, and taste. How you present your food tempts customers to try a dish, and in this age of Social Media, food plating and presentation matters more than ever.
The top food plating techniques include:
Creating Height on the Plate
In food presentation/plating, you mustn’t try to fill the plate by separating the food. Instead, build from the bottom up. Simply pack some food at the bottom to form a base and gently build on it.
Playing with Textures
Using different and contrasting sauces and textures adds aesthetic appeal to the dish. Foams are usually really helpful in plating and can be done easily.
Using Contrasting Colours
Artificial colors should be avoided, and natural colors should be used, e.g., Matcha or Powdered Sugar. Bold colors should also be used to create appealing visuals. The easiest way to add color is to work with colorful ingredients like Carrots, Lettuce, Potatoes, Cauliflower, Beans, etc.
Cutting Meat Horizontally
Slice your meat on a 45-degree bias and also slice against the meat’s grain for a tenderer cut. This plating technique works equally well with Fish and Vegetables.
Choosing the Right Plates
The color of the plate matters as the plate serves as the canvas for the dish. Choose a dish vessel that makes eating easy for your guests, family, friends, peers, etc. Vibrant-colored foods such as Jollof Rice, Melon Soup & Eba, Fried Plantain (Dodo), etc., stand out better on a white plate.
Serving Smaller Portion Sizes
Smaller portions are typically easier to style. Stick to more than six elements on one dish to prevent them from looking overcrowded.
Using Edible Garnishes & Decorations
Garnishes and decorations are great ways of styling your dish, but whatever you use, be it herb, flower, or spice, it should be edible. All garnishes and decorations should be added to a dish, elevating its taste as its priority before aesthetic appeal.
Food plating itself is an art. It gives room for creativity, innovation, and invention. Food plating and presentation should be approached like Art, Cooking, and Music.
Keeping It Simple
The popular axiom “Simplicity is the best sophistication” really comes into play here. Overcrowding the plate with unnecessary oils or spices in the name of garnishes and decorations distorts their primary objective: aesthetics/giving the dish an aesthetic appeal.
In conclusion, plating food beautifully takes time and effort. While you want it to be very appealing, you need to plate your food as fast as possible, especially if it’s a hot dish you don’t want to get cold before it reaches the consumer.