Lots of people have sent inquires about plating so I thought it would be fun to do a little tutorial on the subject.
The first this we are going to cover is saucing a plate. For the photos I have used 4 different sauces all of the shelf products. The reason for this is that consistency with the sauce is important with practicing, the brand of mustard you choose to practice with is always going to have the same thickness and smoothness, so we are cutting out the variables. You could make your own sauce to practice with but why would you? You’re going to be slopping it onto a plate and washing it off moments later so there is no point.
I have used a decent BBQ sauce (thick), Yellow mustard (medium), Mae Ploy (medium thin), Yoshida’s teriyaki (thin). Each thickness can be plated differently. And sauces of similar thickness can be used together.
All you need for sauces are a spoon and on offset spatula. Optionally you can use a paint brush, I’m not a fan of the paint brush because I think it has been grossly overdone but it is still a valid technique. in that vain we are not using squirt bottles, toothpicks and parsley to dress plates because this is not 1995! No concentric circles or gradually smaller dots. That's old hack. Even some of this is kind of old but it is neccesary to do the more complicated "In Situ" plating.
Spoons for me are an important thing. This is my favorite spoon for plating and ice cream quenelles (more on that in my next post). I poked around antique shops everywhere I went until I found this spoon. Notice the relatively elongated shape and deep bowl. The shape of the spoon will affect the shape of the quenelle, also the tighter pointed end allows for cleaner pouring of sauces.
1. No half measures. once you start laying on the sauce you must be confident. you must not stop or hesitate or it will be trashed. You get one shot.
2. Use a dry plate. If your plate is wet the sauce will run all over and be hopelessly lost.
3. Have fun and be creative. After all whats the point if your not enjoying yourself.
First lets talk about the offset spat. The spat should be short and very straight. In addition the plate should be flat. The plate below is a cheapo and it has a rise in the middle which is not ideal for this technique but it was important to show the concept.
Scoop up a bit of the thick sauce on the back of the spatula.....
lightly place the sauced spat on the plate and........
Gently schmere the sauce across the plate using the spatulas own weight. This technique requires a bit of speed and a light hand.
Spots were there is inconsistency can be covered with other garnishes later, more on that in later lessons.
With this next sauce the technique is kind of a pour and drag. Take a bit of the thinnest sauce in your brand new antique spoon that you searched for and lovingly polished. Place the tip only on the plate and in the same motion pour the sauce and move the spoon where ever you think would be cool. In the first picture I made a zig zag pattern and in the second a swoosh following the curvature of the plate.
The key to this one is pouring and moving at the same rate. ish. I think it is awesome when the sauce kind of spaces out at the end.
Nect, also with relatively thinner sauces, is the hovering pour and drag. This one uses the same technique as above but with the spoon hovering about an inch (2-3 am) over the plate. The same issues above with rate and pour speed apply but with the added issue of trying to keep the spoon at the same distance from the plate.
Finally, the thick sauces. In this technique you grab a bit of sauce and place the tip of the spoon straight upright on the surface of the plate. Allow the sauce to seep down and form a pool that encircles the tip of the spoon on the plate. Without lifting the spoon from the plate and keeping it upright pull the spoon backward along the surface of the plate. For giggles you can do to different sauces of different color but similar thickness and drag on through the other. Or drag one sauce in one direction and the other crossing it. I saw at one restaurant where they made a ying yang kind of shape with a dark and a light sauce.
Remember just grab a plate and some paper towels and have fun with it, the above is just the tip of the iceberg of possibilities, but they are the basic techniques on which to build your own style.
Next time the infamous single spooned quenelle.Not hard but requires practice.