Learn to Decorate Your Chinese Dishes

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food_decoration_cThe Chinese pay much attention to the presentation of their cuisine. This is why cutting techniques are so important since the size and shape of individual ingredients should harmonise with each other. We also like to decorate dishes with various kinds of garnish ranging from the simple spring onion brush to the elaborate tomato rose. Here are some instructions for making some simple, attractive garnishes.

Spring onion brushes:

1. Cut off the green part of the spring onion and trim off the base of the bulb. You should have a 3 inch (7.5cm) white segment left.

2. Make a lengthways cut about 1 inch (2.5cm) long at one end of the spring onion. Roll the spring onion 90 degrees and cut again. Repeat this process at the other end.

3. Soak the spring onions in iced water and they will curl into flower brushes. Spin or pat them dry before use.

Radish roses:

1. Remove any leaves, trim the top and the root end of the radish.

2. Make thin, rounded cuts to form petals.

3. Soak the radishes in iced water for about an hour.

Carrot flowers:

1. Peel the carrots and cut them into 3 inch (7.5cm) chunks.

2. Cut a V-shaped slice down the length of each chunk. Repeat, making 3-4 more lengthways cuts around each.

3. Now slice the carrots crossways to form thin flower shapes. Soak them in cold water until required.

Fresh chilli flowers:

1. Trim the tip of the chilli but do not remove the stem.

2. Make 4 cuts lengthways from the stem of the chilli to the tip, to form 4 sections. Remove and discard any seeds.

3. Soak the chillis in cold water. They will 'flower' in the water.

Tomato roses:

1. Select firm tomatoes and, using a very sharp knife, peel off the skin from the top in one piece as though you were peeling an apple. Do not break the strip.

2. Roll the strip of tomato skin into a tight coil.

3. Turn the coil over and you should have a tomato rose.

Cucumber fans:

1. Using a sharp knife, cut off the rounded end of half a cucumber. Then cut it in half lengthways.

2. Turn each cucumber piece so that the skin side is uppermost. Make a horizontal slice to reduce the thickness of each cucumber piece, so that you end up with a slice which is mainly skin with just a little flesh.

3. Now make parallel cuts down the length of the slice, as shown in the diagram. The cuts will have to curve slightly so that you will be able to splay the slices out like a fan.

4. Starting with the second slice, bend every alternative slice in towards the base of the cucumber piece, tucking them in so that they stay securely in place.

5. Keep the cucumber fans in cold water until you are ready to use them.

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