Although it’s rarely the root of the dish formation, plating is always on my mind as I am cooking. It’s got to have the “look”. And the funny thing about taking pictures of food, is that it doesn’t really have to taste good. Make it look pretty, throw in some flowery description and you’ve got yourself a winner. It’s why companies spend a ridiculous amount of money on food stylists. Or take pictures of faux food to ensure the perfect look.
So plating a dish, beyond it being delicious, is always on my mind (even though it doesn’t always turn out as I’d like). But in focusing on individual plating, I realize we never eat “family style”. And although I still love the look of a composed plate, there is something really warm and inviting about truly sharing the meal.
One of the best places for sharing is Joe’s Shanghai, our favorite restaurant in China town, where huge tables are filled with multiple parties, all chowing down on big portions of soup dumplings, mapo tofu, and Szechuan string beans (at least that’s we typically order).
So last night I attempted my own version of Szechuan inspired string beans that came fresh from the CSA last week. Using a ground grass-fed beef (didn’t have the traditional pork), and a bit of miso I was able to develop that rich and tangy flavor that makes the perfectly cooked string beans pop with flavor. I added a bit of frozen corn for sweetness and paired the meal with a little quinoa I spiked with star anise. With a glass of vino verde, this dinner was absolutely delicious, and perfectly shared.