Food presentation is a crucial component of Japanese cuisine. The way that food is shaped, colored, set and garnished can make a huge impact on the overall impression. In order to make an incredible display you can eat with your eyes, you’ll want to follow these few simple tips of Japanese plating.
The Rule of Three
One of the basics of Japanese plating is the rule of three. There are many different ways you can use this guideline to make a lovely display. First, plate the food in a three-sided, triangle shape. This provides an eye-catching display. Next, you’ll also want to leave about one-third of the plate empty. This blank space, or ma, will give the dish an elegant, sleek look and whet the appetite. This is especially important in the summertime, when white space will provide a snowy, cooling effect. You will want to include three different types of food on the plate (usually in three colors: red, green and yellow) for a nice balance of flavors and aesthetics. Finally, make a mountain shape with the food; this appealing shape will certainly make an impression!
Mind Your Colors
As mentioned above, many Japanese dishes focus on inclusion of red, green, and yellow. Outside of these three basic shades, you can use white and black for a striking and appetizing contrast. Some colors are said to represent important nutrients, such as the vitamin C found in yellow foods or the vitamin A in red foods. By minding your colors, you can ensure an overall balanced and healthy dish — not to mention, one that is especially pleasing to the eye.
Sayonara to Symmetry
Unlike American culture, which seems tied to using perfectly round plates, Japanese cuisine is often served on unusual, asymmetric dishes of varying materials and textures. The idea of perfect food alignment is also considered boring and predictable. Instead, a slightly askew look can actually encourage engagement with the dish and an overall sense of peace while eating. Try arranging your food slightly off-center, producing a dramatic element of movement and tension into the dish. By paying close attention to contrast instead of boring uniformity, your dish will transform into a work of art instead of simple sustenance.
Keep It Seasonal
The final element of Japanese plating is seasonality. Washoku, or Japanese food culture, places great importance on keeping dishes and their appearance in line with the time of year. Make sure to use seasonal garnishes. For example, cherry blossoms in the spring, red and gold leaves in the autumn, and white elements in the winter. Summer calls for bamboo baskets of noodles, while winter can afford big, comforting bowls of steaming soup. Cut vegetables in seasonal colors into dynamic shapes for an eye-catching garnish. No matter how you choose to decorate your dish, make sure it aligns with the current climate.