- The Recipe Club -
HOW TO Guides
Good Dish Great Dish
There are a few simple tricks to making a good dish great. They give it the real 'wow' factor. We've narrowed it down to the most important ones for you, and they're surprisingly easy; so keep these in the back of your mind each time you're in the kitchen.
Food plays a large part in our lives. Most of us eat 3 times a day, that's 21 times a week, 84 times a month... and let's be honest - who doesn't love a good snack in between meals. So why don't we strive to make each of these moments as enjoyable and sustainable as we can?
Having a variation of colours in a dish are not only important for nutritional reasons, but also for the overall enjoyment of the dish. In short, Color grabs attention; people enjoy food more and perceive it more enthusiastically when it has visual appeal. Sight is the first sensory property activated when you see a dish, and the colour gives the consumer an almost immediate impression about the freshness, flavour and quality of the dish. This is known as 'visual taste perception', and begins in infancy and increases with age.
Studies have shown that colours in food are essentially able to replace sugar" and still maintain sweetness perception in foods. The colours interfere with judgements of flavour intensity, and in doing so dramatically influence the overall enjoyment of food.
Examples of coloured produce to give that finishing touch:
- Pomegranate seeds
- Purple cabbage
- Pink pickled onions (link this)
- Yellow capsicum
- Turmeric (you may way roast cauliflower in a turmeric seasoning, or stir through a creamy dressing)
- Dried apricots
Texture can be described as the "make or break" attribute of a food. A variety of textures are crucial to the overall enjoyment of a dish, and this can be achieved in easy ways.
The easiest way is to cut vegetables up differently every time to keep it interesting. Whether that's a carrot in large diagonal slices one day, small matchsticks another, and julienned another.
Another simple way to add texture is to put toasted seeds or nuts on or through your dish. Dry toast your seed of nut of choice in a pan (dry toast means no oil) for 5-6 minutes or until nicely golden on all sides. They will making small popping noises as the two halves of the seed seperate and expand with the hot air. Turn off the heat, add 1 TBS of tamari, and mix continuously for 30 seconds. Leave to cool before putting into a jar. As long as you store these in an air tight container they will stay nice and crispy for 2-3 weeks. You can do this in bulk every couple of weeks, and even have a couple of jars of different types of seeds/nuts going to keep it interesting.
Crispy onions is another easy way to add texture. Slice an onion into thin rounds. Toss these together with 1TBS cornflour, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1tsp salt and 1/2 tsp sugar, shaking off the excess when done. Fry in a well oiled pan for 2-3 minutes (ensure the oil is nice and hot before you put them in otherwise they won't be as crispy). Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; do in two batches if you need. Drain excess oil on a paper towel before serving, eat immediately.
A bit of a hybrid between flavour and texture: If you are making a risotto or a pasta; and the recipe call for pumpkin, onion and garlic. Can you puree half of these ingredients and have them as a sauce (blend with cashews to make it extra creamy and nutrient dense) and then cube and add the remaining half. This will provide two textures while incorporating the exact same ingredients.
See flavour balancing.
Flavour is the a combination of aroma and taste. See our Flavour Balancing article for a deep dive into flavour.
The easiest and most crucial part of any dish is using good quality produce. I can't stress this enough! It will lay down a foundation of vibrant flavour etc
The smaller you chop a vegetable = the more surface area is exposed = more flavour. Equally; The larger you chop a vegetable (e.g. cabbage or onion) = the less surface area with the cells exposed (moisture) = increased chances of charring it in a hot pan, if that's what you want to do.
I'd also like to add this section: don't be scared of herbs and spices. If you're going to put some paprika in a dish, don't stop at half a teaspoon; go for a tablespoon (unless of course you specifically want a very subtle flavour). Same with if you're putting garlic, ginger and fresh turmeric into a stir fry; go for it. Get those flavours singing.
Bursts of flavour:
You think your dish is ready? Think again. Try to add 2 or 3 of the following. It'll make a world of difference.
Fresh chopped herbs
Lemon or lime juice
Pink Pickled Onions (link this)
Toasted seeds (see above for recipe)
Garlic and herb aioli (link this)
"We eat with our eyes first"
- Apicius, 1936.
"I don't care what anyone in the world says about salads - as long as they are dressed intelligently and have a contrast of salty and sweet, crunchy and soft, bitter and smoky, you're probably going to be in for a treat."
- Jamie Oliver, 2006