Why You Should Prep Your Garnishes Before You Start Cooking

bourbiza7 January 2022Last Update : 11 months ago
Why You Should Prep Your Garnishes Before You Start Cooking

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Photo: New Africa (Shutterstock)

Let me paint you a picture: You’re cooking breakfast. Today, you’ve decided to make soft scrambled eggs in brown butter. You plan to finish this scramble with a healthy handful of finely sliced chives, or maybe green onion if you’re out of chives. You will eat the eggs with toast.

The eggs have been shaken into fluffy submission, and the butter is in the pan, just starting to foam. The toast is in the toaster. The chives are still in the fridge. You’ll grab them in a second. (They are, after all, the last step.) Oh, the butter is getting darker. Time to add the eggs. The eggs are done. The toast is done. The chives are still in the fridge.

Now it’s time to make a decision. Do you take a minute to rinse and chop the chives, or do you sit down to eat your piping hot eggs and toast? I usually choose the latter, because by this point I am hungry, and I do not enjoy room-temp scrambled eggs. (I’m even more likely to go the garnish-less route if I’ve been cooking for a few hours. By then, I am ready to get out of the kitchen and eat the damn thing.)

This is too bad, because finishing your dish is an important final step. Garnishes aren’t just for looks; they add an extra pop of flavor, freshness, or texture that complements and enhances your already delicious work. A dish without a garnish is like a sentence without a period—everything you need is technically there, but it isn’t finished.

Your garnish shouldn’t be an afterthought, is what I’m saying. It’s an important part of the recipe, and it should be treated as such. Set yourself up for success by rinsing, chopping, chiffonade-ing, or zesting your herbs, citrus, etc. before you even begin cooking. Make it part of your mise en place, and prep these finishing touches while you’re bright and fresh and excited about cooking. You’re more likely to prep your garnish with care, and your leaves, zest, and what not are more likely to actually make it onto the plate.


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