It is essential to sharpen up your skills whether you are a beginner in the kitchen or have been honing in on your chef skills for years. From dicing to julienning we will have you ready to jump back in the kitchen ready to show off your polished skills in front of your next dinner guests.
Of course the quality and design of the knife you will be using to perfectly slice and dice ingredients is of great importance. Here at Pareusi, owner Dan has had experience working in various kitchens and preparing ingredients to feed hundreds of people at a time for 15 years! And so he knows exactly how to create comfortable, well balanced, beautifully sharp knives for all jobs in the kitchen. The best knife to start with is the all-round chef’s knife this is perfect for most precise cutting of ingredients and you will get a crazy amount of use out of this beauty. A sharp blade is a necessity as it is much safer (won’t slip as you cut) and it will ensure cleaner cuts.
Holding And Positioning The Knife
When holding a knife the most common and preferred way is to use whats called a pinch grip, simply hold the knife handle in your hand and pinch the spine of the kitchen knife with your thumb and index finger, this grip gives the greatest control when doing the majority of kitchen preparation.
As you prepare to cut your ingredients, you want to keep your precious fingertips safe by holding your guiding hand in a claw position. Keep your fingertips folded under your hand, your (mid) knuckles should be the part of your hand which is closest to the blade. As you cut/slice/dice your ingredient you want to keep the very point of your knife on the chopping board when possible and just rock your blade back and forth to cut, slide your guiding hand back and move the knife along after each cut. This will allow you to speed up as it is much safer and more time efficient.
Pro Tip- If your chopping board slides slightly on top of your kitchen counter whilst you chop, place a couple of wet kitchen paper towels flat underneath the board to prevent movement.
In the below Youtube video you can see how Dan dices a couple of vegetable for this dish.
As the most basic knife technique, slicing ingredients is a great place to start. Lay your ingredient down flat on the chopping board, hold your knife in your dominant hand and place your guiding hand top of your ingredient close to where the blade will slice through. After each slice, move your knife slightly to position it correctly over your ingredient ready to slice again. You want to keep the slices the same size so they will cook evenly and look neat. If you are slicing circular produce such as a carrot or onion it is easier to cut the ingredient in half so you are able to lay it flat for more stability whilst slicing.
Dicing is a great skill to master as it is so often used to prepare vegetables. The outcome results in uniformed pieces (often cubes) of ingredients. Say you were dicing a potato, you begin by trimming the edges to form a rectangle. From here you lay the ingredient on the chopping board on its thickest side then cut into even pieces along the rectangle. Then dice these pieces by cutting them again (the thickness is up to you, starting with thick dices is easier when learning). Now you will have little batons, if you would like cubes then turn these pieces 90° and cut again. You will end up with fairly equal pieces of potato. Once you are comfortable with basic dicing you could practice Macedoine, 1/4 inch pieces which is a great size for soups and salads.
This cut is essentially cutting your ingredient into thin “matchsticks”. We shall use a bell pepper to explain this technique. Take your bell pepper and cut it straight down the middle through the top of the stem, cut again through the halves from top to bottom. Cut out the membrane and place one of the quarters flesh side down on the chopping board with the smooth skin facing upwards. Whilst using the claw method, put light pressure on the pepper to flatten it, making it easier to cut thin, equal pieces. Cut down the length of the pepper, rocking the knife from tip to heel of the blade. Try and get the cut as thin as possible and you will have a good Julienne cut.
A thick baton shaped cut. Say you were cutting large parsnips. You want to start off by cutting the parsnip into 3 inch segments. Take one segment and cut a thin layer off one side so the parsnip can lay flat on the board. Now cut a thin layer off each side to square off the segment. You want the angle of each corner to be as close to 90° as possible. Now cut this segment of parsnip into quarter inch rectangular segments. Cut each segment into quarter inch batons, you will likely get 3 or 4 batons out of each rectangular segment. There you have your parsnip in a Batonnet cut.
The tourne cut will require more practice than other techniques mentioned above. Tourne is French for “turn”, you will need to turn your ingredient round after each cut to succeed in this skill. Place your ingredient on your chopping board, for this demonstration we will say we are cutting a medium sized potato. Trim both ends of the potato off to leave you with a 5cm piece. For this next step you will want to use a pairing knife. Pick this piece up in your guide hand, place your index and middle finger on the top end of the potato, your ring finger under the bottom of the potato, relax your little finger and hold the bottom end of the potato using your thumb. Now place the thumb of your dominant hand at the bottom end of the potato and place the blade of the knife 1cm from the edge of the top of the potato. As you cut from the top to the centre of the potato you want the knife to be angled slightly outwards and from the centre to the bottom you want the knife to be angled slightly inward to create the rounded tourne cut. Turn the potato ever so slightly and cut toune again, a traditional tourne cut has seven sides but you can build up to that as you practice.