As I’m sure you’ve noticed, “bowls” are the new big thing. In fact, there was a restaurant near home called “Bowled,” which specialized in the things. The concept is essentially a particular way to package food. Rather than segregating the usual elements found on a plate (veggies, grain/carbs, and meats), everything is thrown together in the same bowl. Personally, I find food segregation tedious and superfluous. It’s all going in the same place (and out the same place). Bowls have long been used to hold food—since before the Neolithic Age. Only until the 1500’s did people start to care about how their food was presented. And by people, I mean rich people. And by rich people, I mean royalty. Think Catherine Medici, and later Louis XIV. Arguably, Marie Antione-Careme was the first to bring the concept of plated dishes to the forefront. And if you’re thinking: wait, it was the French who spear-headed the unnecessary placement of food on a plate just so that it could all be pooped out at the same time?! GTFO! You are correct and well-justified in your sarcasm.
Now, don’t get me wrong: making food pretty is important. In fact the Japanese may have been the first to introduce the concept of pretty food in a big bowl. Enter: chirashi. Lots of pretty, fresh, colorful cold dead fish and artfully sliced vegetables over a cloud of sticky snow white rice. I’m sure there is a psychological aspect to pretty food, but my point in picking on the French is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. (Sorry, haute cuisine. Your tweezers, flower petals and food cubes are pretty, but not my thing. AND GIVE ME SOME DAMN SALT WITH MY FOOD, YOU FREAKING NAZIS!!)
The Japanese are definitely on to something. Let the integrity of the ingredients speak for themselves. There is something beautiful about fresh, unadulterated ingredients sitting in a bowl, begging to be shoved unceremoniously into a gaping maw. In fact, to that end, there is something inherently insulting about messing with those beautiful ingredients such that they become unrecognizable (foams, geleés, bobas, cubes, schmears, ugh. Stahp). I suppose “food” can be categorized into two schools of thought; (1) food for nourishment, and (2) food as entertainment (art, theater, etc.). I’ve always favored to the former.
Anywho, bowls are great because they are so versatile. In fact, you don’t even have to put the food in a bowl. A plate is wholly acceptable (note: bowls have raised lips, which prevents food from escaping). The important thing is integration. No discrimination here: everyone plays together on the same playground. Bowls usually have the following layout: base (some sort of carbohydrate); vegetable; protein, and various garnishes or toppings. If you’re carb-conscious, use low-carb bases like spaghetti squash, kale, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, zoodles, etc. Below are some photos of a couple of “bowls” I’ve made in the past. I’ve also included a couple of recipes for the chicken I usually throw on top.
Citrus Garlic Chicken
2 chicken breasts
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder
- Combine all ingredients except the chicken;
- Cut the chicken into 1-1 1/2″ cubes, and add to the marinade;
- Pre-heat a skillet to medium, and add a splash of olive oil;
- Add the chicken (try not to get all of the marinade in the pan: you’ll prevent a good sear, and the marinade will burn)
- Sear on one side for about 2-3 minutes, or until browned, then turn;
- If you see the marinade start to burn, add some water;
- Towards the end, about 2 minutes before the chicken is done, add the remaining marinade, and cook until evaporated.
Orange Ginger Chicken
1 pound chicken tenders
1/4 cup Makoto Orange Ginger Dressing (or other brand)
- Combine the chicken and dressing in a small bowl;
- Pre-heat a skillet to medium on the stove;
- Add the tenders to the pan (try not to get any excess dressing in the pan–it will burn, and you’ll be unhappy and eating carcinogens);
- Sauté for 2-3 minutes without touching (you want to get a good caramelization going);
- Turn the tenders (Ha. Alliteration);
- Cook until done, adding water if necessary to prevent burning.