What a fun thing to do with your family – create great garnishes! You may consider a specific theme before you decide to buy your ingredients for your garnishes. For example, you might be keen to create Asian garnishes using watermelon rind to design a dragon. Cantalopes also have a firm skin that works as well as a watermelon. You have to design your figure with a sharp knife first. Then you have to progressively continue to cut your design in the rind. Using a stripper or a v-shaped blade carving tool, you can make very clean cuts to carve each part of your animal.
A basket is a wonderful addition to a buffet table. It can as large as a watermelon, or as small as a fresh lemon or lime. Tomatoes, although smaller and softer, may be a bit more of a challenge because their skin is much thinner. Fresh strawberries, blueberries, and other fresh fruit look very appetizing inside a fruit or vegetable basket.
Taro root is a very good root to use for a garnish. It has a whitish/purple color and is solid. That means that it can be cut to the shape of design, and remain the same shape. A monkey king is a typical Asian taro garnish. Each part of the monkey’s body can be sculpted.Toothpicks can be used to put two parts together.
Another common vegetable used as a garnish is the daikon. Usually white ones are found in your local grocery store. However, I have found a beautiful, deep purple colored daikon in a large local Asian market. Either one will provide a solid and firm form. Using a carving knife, you can cut off wedges of the daikon and create a swimming or flying swan. They can be very nicely trimmed to the shape of flowers. Chrysanthmums can be made with a thinly cut daikon, rolled up and secured with a toothpick.
Flowers are a great way to spruce up your buffet dinner table. Try buying a grapefruit and peel it with a knife. Use the white inner grapefruit skin. Roll up this skin and secure with a toothpick. A nice velvety texture will result. If you like, use beet juice to dye the grapefruit skin purple.
These are just a few ideas for you to create Asian garnishes. Of course, there are many fruits and vegetables that you can use.
Learning to make garnishes can be both attractive and delicious!
Books to check out!
Budgen, June. 1986. The Book of Garnishes. Tuscon, AZ: HP Books.
Crowley, Jerry. 1978. The Fine Art of Garnishing. Baltimore, MD: Lieba, Inc.
Su-Huei, Huang. 1990. Great Garnishes. Taipei, Taiwan: Wei-Chuan’s Publishing.