There are several kitchen knife techniques that are helpful to know, whether you cook at home or in a professional kitchen. With a little knowledge of what these common terms mean and how to execute them, you can whip through new recipes quickly. Mastering these different cuts will help to improve your food presentation and your ability to combine flavors in various ways. Here, we explain essential culinary cutting terms in a guide that you can easily reference.
Slice and Chop
- Slice: Slicing is straightforward. With slicing, you are simply cutting ingredients into thin pieces, with long strokes in one direction. Anything from bread to cooked meats and raw fish are sliceable.
- Chop: Chopping is an imprecise action where you cut ingredients into large to bite-sized pieces, without worrying about strict uniformity or shape. Chopping is useful for a wide range of ingredients such as roots and other vegetables for rustic dishes and presentation.
Cube and Dice
- Cube: When making cubes, make even cuts first in one direction, then in another that is perpendicular to the first. You want to form cube-shaped pieces of your ingredient that are the same size. The exact dimensions can vary based on what a dish calls for, but cubes are generally on the larger side, similar to chopped pieces. Meat and potatoes are common ingredients that you may cube.
- Dice: You create diced pieces in a similar way to cubed ones. The one major difference between cubing and dicing is that dicing results in smaller pieces that are a fraction of an inch. You may often see onions or carrots in a diced form.
Julienne and Brunoise
- Julienne: This is also known as the French cut. Julienning calls for a chef to cut an ingredient into uniform, long pieces that are reminiscent of matchsticks. It’s effective for firm, solid vegetables, such as zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes.
- Brunoise: A brunoise cut is one where an ingredient is broken into squares, similar to cubes and dices. However, brunoise cuts are even smaller than dices. To make them, you first julienne an ingredient, then make close cuts perpendicular to the original julienne direction. Again, performing a brunoise is suitable for harder vegetables.
Mince and Chiffonade
- Mince: Your goal with mincing is to cut up the ingredients into fine, even pieces. Minced pieces are probably the smallest you will produce with a knife. Use this skill to cut ingredients with strong flavors that you want to infuse in a dish. Garlic and ginger are common examples. You may also mince other vegetables like onions, carrots and celery when you want them to cook down and be invisible in the final result.
- Chiffonade: Chiffonade is a cut that you’ll mostly use to create garnishes. You roll up leafy ingredients, then cut them to form thin, long, ribbon-like pieces. You may chiffonade herbs such as mint and basil, or leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach and collard greens.
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