One of the things that I find captivating about Japanese cuisine is the presentation. It is beautiful. I read somewhere that Japanese cuisine takes advantage of the four distinct seasons and that garnishes are often created to give a sense of the season that the dish is representing. Although it is Fall now, I recently learned a technique for making an ume blossom (plum blossom/Japanese apricot blossom) that I just had to share with you. The blossom is orange, so at least the color is seasonally appropriate, even if the blossom isn’t!
The equipment that you will need to make these blossoms is a good sharp knife (I find a paring knife works well since the cuts you will be making are small), a vegetable cutter in a blossom shape, and a medium to large size carrot. These cutters can be found on-line (example). You could also use small cookie cutters or fondant cutters like these as long as your slices are thin enough for you to push the cutter all the way through.
Start out by peeling a carrot and then cutting it into 1/4″ discs.
Place the cutter on a carrot slice and press straight down to cut out the blossom. I like to place a bit of folded paper towel between my hand and then cutter so the cutter doesn’t cut uncomfortably into my hand.
Carefully score the blossom from the center out between each of the five petals, making sure not to cut down more than half way.
Cut away a small wedge of carrot (using the knife on about a 20 to 30-degree angle) on each petal to make the blossom more 3-dimensional.
I love having carrots on hand now because these make such pretty garnishes! You could use the same technique with a radish. I also love making these for Squirrel because she gets so excited to eat her “flowers”.
If you’re going for something more seasonal, you could always do what I did in a bento for Squirrel this week. I took a slice of cheddar cheese and used a pumpkin cookie cutter to cut out a cute pumpkin shape to lay over the top of her veggies.
Armed with a few cookie cutters the possibilities are endless!