For the past few weeks I've been cooking with generic, cheap "vegetable oil" (which is usually a combination of soybean, corn, etc type oil) and my food has tasted mediocre without me realizing it. But a few days ago I went to my local food co-op and spent $10 on a 14oz jar of raw, virgin, organic coconut oil (and it was on sale, so it was probably $12-$14 originally) and last night made some tacos, frying the peppers and onions in the coconut oil i bought... and DAMN. huge difference in the quality and flavor of my meal. it's hard to explain why it tasted significantly better, but it definitely did...So yeah, just wanted to spread the word about how spending a few extra dollars on a good cooking oil makes such a big difference!
Tang also stresses the importance of playing with contrasting colors. She avoids artificial colors and uses matcha, powdered sugar, or natural colors to catch the eye instead. “The way you present your food is hyper-important” she adds. “The more time you spend on how you present each dish, the more visual interest you can stimulate in folks.” Tanner Agar, owner and chief experience officer at Rye Restaurant in McKinney, Texas, echos that sentiment. Agar recommends using bold colors to create appealing visuals. “The easiest way to add color is to start working with more colorful ingredients. Items like carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, lettuces, beans, and more come in a variety of gorgeous colors,” he says. “The difference a purple cauliflower puree makes on a plate is striking.”
Joyce Tang, chief baking officer at Oakland, California’s La Chinoserie, suggests playing with textures, foams, and sauces to make the dish look more interesting. “I like to play up contrasting textures on my plate,” she adds. “Foams are usually really helpful in plating and can be really easily done, playing around with different sauces and textures.”
England also recommends “fanning” or shingling out slices of meat to show off its quality. “Slice your meats on a 45-degree bias, and also slice against the grain of the meat for a more tender cut,” he says. “Show off that perfect medium-rare steak!”
Daniel England, corporate chef with San Diego’s OMG Hospitality Group, likes to create height as he plates food. “It’s important that you don’t separate the food trying to fill the plate—build from the bottom up,” he says. “If you could use a little structure, you can always purchase a ring mold to start with a base. Simply pack some food in the mold and gently lift it up. Now you have a base to build on.”
You can salt them yourself with salt packets (this works at most fast-food joints).
Try adding guac to a beef or bean burrito. Amongst the Taco Bell regulars, this is known as “The Hulk.”