Mukimono techniques, tools and knives
Fruits and vegetables cutting, carving and sculpting: techniques, tools and knives.
The way of cutting varies with the texture of the vegetable or fruit as some vegetables are prone to circular strip cuts, others to geometric patterns (circles, crescents, roses, etc) and others to ribbons. The objective of Mukimono is not only emphasizing the shapes and colours, but also highlighting the aromas and flavours. But these small culinary delights are aimed more at the looks and the imagination than to the palate, as some of them are downright inedible, but give a beautiful touch to Japanese cuisine, giving it its distinctive personality. The relevance of Mukimono art in international cuisine is huge, as it is used to decorate, to create edible ornaments and garnishes and as centrepieces which can be cut into shapes with details concerning the type of event. When placing the figures or ornaments on trays it is important to use symmetry and find a focal point for visual fluidity.
Carrying out this work requires patience and enough time to be able to work orderly and carefully. Trimming and paring knives, peelers, scoops, corers, V cuts and gouges are the basic tools used in most cases to carry out the sculptures and bas-reliefs.
Most of the decorations require placing in iced water, as cold water enables sections and cuts to open, separating into spires or curves without losing their firmness. Certain decorations require cuts that are flexible and soft so they can be interlaced, bent or fixed without breaking. This can be accomplished by placing the cuttings in brine, a solution of water and salt (50 gr. of salt in 500 ml of water) to achieve the needed flexibility. Cold water is also an excellent way to preserve most Mukimono decorations for a few days so you can consider storing them in a fridge immersed in water where they can stay fresh for four or five days. Covering decorations with clear jelly is a technique that can be used with both fruit and vegetables in order to give them an attractive gloss besides helping to conserve them.
Vinegar and lemon juice have many uses, one of which is to prevent “oxidation” (browning) of decorations with apples or eggplants in addition to acting as a preservative and removing the pungent smell of onion leaves. We strongly recommend that the decorations are prepared in advance, in order not to be overwhelmed with work on the day of the event.