19 easy ways to plate Asian dishes like a pro

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Because truly savouring Asian cooking means using more than just your sense of taste...

“Anybody can cook”, said Chef Gusteau in Ratatouille. But as much as the movie inspires us to cook, it also inspires us visually, with animated food! Like, you so want-to-eat-right-now! Learning the food plating styles for your Asian dishes, will not only make you popular amongst your friends but also will make you an Instagram star!

Here are 19 tips to help you plate Asian dishes like a pro! After all, enjoying Asian cuisine should be a multi-sensory experience.

What are the Best Food Plating Styles For Asian Dishes?

Tip 1- As a ‘Matter’ of fact!

Using food items with different matters helps with the visual satisfaction. Food items in a solid, semi-solid and liquid state (well getting gas would be very difficult!) combined together while plating balances the dish.

So if you are planning to plate a grilled meat dish, make sure you have some tossed veggies/rice/noodles on the side, mashed potato and the gravy. You can either use them as layers, heaviest being the base. Or you can also use all of the elements decorated in the plate. Drizzle some sauce from the top, or brush it on the side of the dish.

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Tip 2- You feel it, as you see it!

Having said that, textures play a very important role while plating any dish. Food plating styles for Asian dishes are a blessing in a way because we have so many varied textures.

When you are about to serve any dish, be it noodles, stir-fry, soup or even fried rolls; make sure you have at least 3 textures on the plate at any given time. This is actually very easy! You can either choose from the visual or taste texture varieties. Like, serve a soup with crispy noodles on the top with a garnish of fragrant coriander leaves. It not only looks very appetizing, but it plays the perfect rhythm with every bite in the mouth.

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Tip 3- Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Colors!

In school, you must have learned the importance of all the colors, and how a new color is born by mixing two or more colors. One of the most important rule while following food plating styles is that you play with the colors.

No, don’t complain that your dish is too brown to look colorful. I would suggest you add extra elements, for the visual break. You can choose a colorful dip, garnish, or even a couple of sliced veggies! In the case of Hainanese Chicken Rice, you surely can add more colors to the browns as below!

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Tip 4- Stairway to heaven!

Food is our stairway to heaven, from the mouth to stomach, straight to bliss! And what is better than creating a few levels to help us get higher? Use elements on your dish to level it up, and up the game further!

Asian dishes have a lot of scope in terms of experimenting with the food plating styles. Whether it is a dessert or any other dish, stack them on each other, and balance them to perfection! Serve the sides or condiments on the same plate.

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Tip 5- Inside out

Many Asian dishes have a lot of layers and elements. Sometimes, it comes out as a surprise when you bite into such goodness. While plating such dishes, it is best to reveal what is in store for the hogger.

In such cases, simply keep a few of the food pieces out in the open to flaunt the gorgeous inside!

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Tip 6- ‘Light’ it up!

Everyone who knows food photography basics will tell you the importance of lighting while plating a food. It not only highlights the important elements in the food served but also makes you attracted to it faster.

When you have many elements in your dish, try to highlight all of the elements at least one portion of it, and the rest can be in shadows, giving more depth of field to the dish. A side angled light is always better than a top angle. Avoid flash.

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Tip 7- Cherry on the top!

Garnish is the actual ‘cherry on the top’ of each of your dishes. Whatever food plating styles you choose, without garnish, the dish will always be incomplete!

While selecting a garnish, make sure that it is compatible in terms of taste. The second factor is the color. No point garnishing greens with a green! Make sure your garnish stands out. And lastly, if the dish is like a curry and the garnish might get soggy, make sure you select a more durable garnish.

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Tip 8- Pick the Perfect Serving Style

You have so many dishes in the house, but ditch what has been taught to you! New innovative platings will not only bring in freshness to your dish but also will earn many accolades from those eating it.

Those recipes that have a few elements, try and layer them. 

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 Tip 9- Utter Cutlery

Another important aspect while following different food plating styles is, that you need to arrange the perfect cutlery with the dish. If your dish is a soup with veggies, fish, and noodles, then best to provide all that is needed to chow it down with full satisfaction.

In many dishes, you can also make the cutlery a part of the dish, like skewers, or make designs out of it.

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Tip 10- Mats and Backgrounds

Like food has layers, even the plates need some more love! Be creative and let your imaginations go wild! You can keep a silk cloth, a pretty mat or even leaves below the plate!

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Tip 11- Serving In A Unique Dish

Have you literally thought of representing the dish for what it stands for? Like deviled eggs, they are actually eggs pipped with the filling. Same with the pineapple rice, served in an actual pineapple!

Try serving Thai curries in a real coconut, or sushi in a fish! The dish can be made edible or just for show, but surely it will look like a star dish!

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Tip 12- I love the shape of you, too!

Play with shapes! Yes, visually they are so so tempting! You can either use different shapes and plate them or can mold them into different shapes.

This type of plating is a hit with kids. They just love different shapes. Best time to slide in some healthy nutritious food in a playful shape.

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 Tip 13- Be a minimalist!

The Japanese and fine dining restaurants have mastered the art of minimalism. Sometimes, less is more! It’s not only a visual treat but also makes sure that you relish every bite of it slowly and not just dump it in the stomach directly.

While you use small portions, make sure you also add different flavours to add into the taste medley. Garnish with a lot of items that suits the dish to add colours as well.

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 Tip 14- Say it with Flowers

Flowers are one of the best ways to express your love. And when it comes to your love for food, what better than flowers?

There are a few edible flowers like lavender, rose petals, borage blossoms et all and a few non-edible ones that you can use. The choice is yours! Make sure it enhances your dish further.

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Tip 15- Color Segregation

When you have many items planned for the meal, see if they have common colors. It will be an interesting sight to plate them by grouping them together. It makes one feel that there are so many options and food to choose from!

Many chefs like to color segregate their dishes while plating, especially desserts and condiments.

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Tip 16- Traditionally yours, only!

Somethings are better left untouched. If Granny tells you this is how you present a dish; that’s what you do. A few dishes have their own charm due to the traditional aspect involved.

Even if the same dish is cooked exactly with no change of taste, but plated differently, you wouldn’t enjoy it as much, Isn’t it? Can you imagine eating nasi kuning in any other form than this?

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Tip 17- The balancing act!

This one is an intended pun. You need to balance the food while plating sometimes as well as balance the nutrition while serving it.

You can nicely serve appetisers, side dish and main course in one plate! Skewers come to the rescue most of the times. In any dish, make sure you have a perfect balance of the proteins, fibres, carbs and good fats! Well, a healthy dish is always the prettiest for the human body!

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Tip 18- Geometry

Some may call it being ‘OCD’, but others may just simply agree that there is a unique charm to the food items placed geometrically.

This is one of food plating styles that is the easiest, and classiest! Have you tried it yet?

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 Tip 19- Surprise Packaging

Serve the unexpected. You may expect a rice dumpling in a ketupat lebaran, but SURPRISE! You open to find meatballs waiting for you.

Sometimes surprise packaging while plating your dish adds into the excitement. This surely will test your creativity as a chef. Professionals like to reveal sometimes their dish, and sometimes keep it a secret. Shhh!

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Well do let us know how useful our tips are and if you do try any of these, post it in the comment section with your creation!