You’ve probably heard the phrase “people eat with their eyes” before. As a food stylist, remembering this rule is definitely the key to presenting a beautiful dish. Looks alone don’t make a meal, so your guests won’t rave about their dinner if it looks amazing but tastes blah. Similarly, as the cook, you don’t want to slave away in the kitchen for hours unless it’s followed by at least a little gratification from your friends.
The entrée of any meal is the first impression diners get of what’s to come; it’s the shiny shoes and the combed hair of the food world. You’ve got to draw diners in and get them excited for the remaining courses. Through some colour, pattern and flavour, this beetroot gravlax is sure to do the trick.
Gravlax is traditionally a Nordic dish of raw salmon cured in salt, sugar and herbs. The grated beetroot around the outside of the salmon gives the edge a beautiful pinky-purple hue. It serves as a visual cue for freshness, too. The Botanica & Maison collection comes in a variety of patterns, ideal for offsetting the colours and textures in your food. Due to its playful, mix-matching nature, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a table filled with friends ready to share a meal.
Thanks to the influx of cooking shows on the TV, there’s a trend for making relatively ordinary food extra special through some fancy plating. Don’t be scared to try out some easy tricks to make your food look like it came out of a three-hatted restaurant. I paired my salmon with some seasonal coloured carrots and some small viola flowers to add a bit of prettiness and colour. Remember, it’s all about first impressions, so make it count!
Beetroot Salmon Gravlax
Note: Start this recipe a day in advance
Ingredients (serves 8-10 as a entree):
1kg salmon fillet, skin removed
2 large beetroots, coarsely grated
350g caster sugar
250g rock salt
1 bunch dill, coarsely chopped
zest of 2 oranges
50g small capers
2 tsp jarred horseradish
Mix the beetroot, sugar, rock salt, dill, orange zest, capers and horseradish in a large bowl.
Place a large sheet of glad wrap in a baking dish or container. Spread half of the beetroot mixture on the glad wrap, creating a bed for the fish. Then place the salmon fillet on top. Cover the salmon with the remaining mixture and wrap tightly with the excess glad wrap.
Put the salmon into the fridge (leave it in the container or baking tray just in case juices leak out) and keep there for 8 hours minimum (24 hours maximum) before removing and unwrapping. Lift the salmon out of the beetroot mixture and rinse under cold water. Thinly slice the fish and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, some capers, sliced red onion or salad.