Tonight was one of those serendipitous nights in the kitchen where a pinch of this and a dash of that and a generous helping of oh yeah resulted in something delectable.
And it also gave me the perfect dish with which to complete my “Eight ways to make a plate look better” project, inspired by one of Louis Eguaras’s tips in 101 Things I Learned in Culinary School. I’d been saving this tip, in which Eguaras advises cooks to “play clear geometries off random arrangements,” because I wasn’t always sure how to accomplish it in an effective way. But I’m pretty pleased with this attempt. The meatballs have a clear round shape, while the carrot and apple slaw, though clearly its own entity, is actually comprised of a seemingly random arrangement of bits and pieces of ingredients.
If you’re looking for an exact recipe, you unfortunately won’t find one here today, but I’ll do my best to estimate in case you want to make this too.
Korean BBQ Style Meatballs (inspired from my mom’s bulgogi marinade)
To 1 pound ground sirloin (local!) I added:
– about 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
– pinch salt and pepper
– 1 teaspoon ground ginger
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– dash of soy sauce
– smaller dash of toasted sesame oil
– about 1/4 onion grated and squeezed in a towel to remove excess moisture
Cook in a bit of oil in a cast iron skillet until browned on all sides.
Ordinarily, sirloin is not my ground meat of choice for meatballs. I mean, come on, it’s more expensive right? However, I was recently inspired by a little TV feature I watched on The Meatball Shop in New York. I watched one of the head chefs make a Philly cheesesteak-inspired meatball in which he used a meat grinder to grind onions, peppers, and cheese as well as bread crumbs and beef shoulder. He rolled it up into a little meatball and voila. Gourmet food for the masses. I love their menu and have been looking at it often because I think it’s very well organized and fun. So anyway, this got me thinking about making a meatball super snazzy. And I was pretty happy with the result. The only thing missing was a good sauce.
What? There’s a sauce in the photo?
Oh, yeah. Well, I just used a bottled teriyaki sauce I had in the fridge and added a little crushed pineapple to it. That’s not even semi-homemade, if you ask me. It worked okay for tonight, but I’d like to ponder some more what the best sauce would be. Probably a bulgogi marinade warmed through on the stove and poured over the meatballs? What do you think?
Carrot and Apple Slaw (adapted from Fried Wontons 4 u’s recipe here)
– 4 small carrots, grated or peeled into strips
– sprinkle of sugar and salt
– half an apple, cut into matchstick shapes
– tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
– half tablespoon of pineapple juice
– drizzle of olive oil
– scant 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1. Sprinkle the carrots with salt and sugar and let sit about 20 minutes (good opportunity to get your meatballs together). After that, my carrots were really salty so I rinsed them off under some water and then squeezed them out in a towel to get that extra moisture out.
2. Add the other ingredients and toss together.
Why did I have so much pineapple remnants lying around, you may be wondering? It turns out I turned Smitten Kitchen’s Pina Colada Cake into cupcakes last night. But I’m gonna wait to share my adaptation with you because it’s not quite ready to share.
Something to look forward to, right? Anyway. This meal came together really quickly, and I was quite happy with it.
So now I’ve completed my little project. Here’s a re-cap of all the ways I tried to make my plates look better:
1. Use negative space
2. Avoid flatness
3. Use white plates for simplicity
4. Use different plate shapes
5. Use strong geometries (that’s this one)
6. Use counterpoints
7. Add a garnish
8. Paint the sauce
Whether you’re interested in trying these dishes or getting creative with your plating, I hope you enjoyed reading about my little challenge, and encourage you to set little mini-challenges or projects while you’re in the kitchen. Trust me, it’s fun!