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Being able to use your knives skillfully is probably the most fundamental aspect to cooking. Thoughtfully cutting ingredients into complementary shapes maximizes their texture and proportion. It affects how quickly they will cook in relation to other ingredients, and of course how the final result appears, since we all eat with our eyes and nose first. Professional cooks have a limitless arsenal of cuts to choose from that take years of learning, but here we’ll run down the basics.
When precision is less important, especially for ingredients that will get cooked for a long time, many home cooks use a rough chop. Maybe it’s for use in a rustic dish, like onions that will cook down for a long time in a stew or herbs and aromatics like parsley leaves or thyme, that just need to be slightly broken up, rough chopping is generally best suited to a chefs knife (gyutou) and a rocking motion going over the same ingredients until a roughly uniform sized cuts appear..
Dicing + Julienning
Dicing creates small uniform cubic pieces, by first slicing in one direction, and then stacking the cut ingredients and slicing again perpendicular so that the resulting shapes are first strips (larger batonnet cuts or finer julienne). When these strips are cut into smaller cubes you have a dice. When working with round items like potatoes or tomatoes, it is a good idea to cut them in half first so that you have a flat surface to safely work with.
Rolling cuts are useful when dealing with items that are not uniform is size from end to end (such as carrots or parsnips). Since uniform sized pieces cook evenly, the goal is achieved by rotating the item a half turn with each cut.
No matter which cut you are using, having a sharp knife makes cooking easier and more pleasurably. For help choosing a perfect knife to maximize the time you spend cooking please contact Chubo Knives.