Owning a set of knives is great – but do you actually know how to cut with them? You can save a whole lot of time in the kitchen, if you just learn how to cut your food in a way that makes things easier! These are the skills that will take you from a master time waster to a “master chef” in no time at all!
Just remember, that when working with knives, you always need easy access to them. Knives are sharp, and cause injuries worldwide on a daily basis to people who don’t know how to work with them properly. They need to be easy to locate, use, wash, dry and put back in a manner that becomes methodical. That’s why using a magnetic knife holder is one of the best solutions to easy knife organization within the kitchen. You can get one you attach to the wall, close to your counter tops, or one that simply attaches to the fridge! Once you have all your knives in place, you can begin the following cutting skills:
1. Holding the Knife Correctly
The first thing you need to do when dealing with knives is learning how to hold them properly. You will use your chef’s knife more than any other knife. When cutting, keep your finger and thumb at the back of the knife, with your fingers wrapped firmly around the handle. Having a firm grip and strong control over your knife means everything when cutting and chopping!
Also, never put your fingers of your other hand flat next to your knife. Rather form a claw to keep your fingers protected! Always use a strong chopping board as well.
2. Cutting Correctly
Right, now that you know how to hold your knife correctly, you need to learn how to cut with it. You need to rock the knife instead of lifting it off the board. Start by taking something solid, like a bunch of spring onion, and simply rock your knife forward and backwards. Once you get the hang of it, you can start chopping faster and faster!
3. How to Dice
Dicing is probably the most popular cuts of vegetables, especially when it comes to onions. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to dice your onions in no time at all!
Begin by cutting your onion in half through the root end. Then make sure to peel ALL the outer layers and place the flat side down on the cutting board. Cut a few incisions horizontally into the onion.
Once you’ve done this, turn the onion so that it is facing you, and make some cuts vertically across. You will then need to turn the onion once again and start chopping so that you get many dice-shaped pieces. Some recipes need small-shaped dice, some medium, and some large; stick to the size of the “dice” according to the recipe you’re using!
**Just a note, onions make you cry, so if you possibly have contact lenses, put them in before working with them, and this will solve this “teary” problem!
4. How to Chiffonade
When we eat, we first feast with our eyes, and this is where chiffonading comes in! When making a dish look beautiful by adding garnishes, you are going to use this special cut! Chiffonading applies mainly to herbs, like basil, for example.
To begin, stack your basil leaves one on top of each other in a pile. You will then need to roll them up, right from the top, until the bottom, making a very tight cigar shape out of the leaves. Then chop thin vertical slices all the way across, and this will give you lovely, ribbon-like shapes, perfect for garnishing!
5. How to Mince
Mincing is a popular cut, mostly used for garlic. It’s easy to buy minced garlic at any major supermarket, but mincing the garlic yourself, is extremely satisfying. First, take your clove of garlic and cut the root end off. Then place the knife on top of it flat down. Apply pressure to it with two hands, one on top of each other. The garlic clove will flatten and the outer peel will instantly detach itself, ready for easy removal!
Then, all you need to do is chop the garlic so that it ends up in very tiny pieces. The tinier the pieces, the tastier your dish will be!
6. How to Slice
There are many things you may want to slice – especially when making a salad. When slicing a tomato, it’s best to use a serrated knife. First hold it on its side and cut off the end. Then you can either make vertical slices, keeping the shape intact, or you can first cut the tomato in half, place the halves down and cut that way, making semicircles. When slicing cucumbers, use a chef’s knife.
**When it comes to tomatoes, its better to use a serrated knife even when it comes to dicing, so that the juices don’t squirt out!
7. How to Julienne
Julienne is a way of cutting vegetables that are in long rectangular shapes. This is mainly done with carrots, but you can do it with potatoes too when making French fries. You can begin by cutting the carrot in half so that it can lie down flat on the cutting board.
Then cut the carrots into segments that are 2-inch long. Continue, and make slices that are all 8th of an inch. Stack the carrots upon one another, and cut 8th of an inch slices down again. At the end, you will have carrots that all match up with one another, and look like sticks.
Super Julienne Crispy French Fries Recipe
This is a fantastic French fries’ recipe that produces golden and crispy French fries. It goes great with ketchup and mayonnaise, as well as BBQ sauce!
- 2 Large Potatoes
- +/- 500 ml boiling water
- +/- 500 ml ice water
- +/- 500 ml vegetable oil
- Place water in a bowl in the freezer. Then, Slice two large potatoes and cut off the ends (keep these 4 pieces – you’ll see why later!) Start julienning the potatoes by cutting them up into thick slices and then cutting into those to make rectangular, finger-sized, perfectly julienned French fries.
- Now take the water bowl of icy water out of the freezer, and place the French fries (including those 4 extra pieces) inside it for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes boil the kettle. Then, take all the French fries and place them in a bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes only.
- Place the French fries on kitchen towels and pat dry. Now, transfer the French fries onto a tray that you can place inside the freezer. If you don’t have space for a tray, put them inside a bowl (however, they do come out better when placed on a tray). Wait an hour.
- Heat up the vegetable oil for 10 minutes on a gas stove before removing the French fries (15 minutes if it’s an electric stove). Then, place one of the 4 pieces inside the oil, and see if it starts frying straight away. There should be a lot of noise and bubbles, and the piece should rise to the top. When this happens, the oil is hot enough for the rest of the French fries. Fry them (except the last 3 small pieces) for 2 minutes only while stirring them around.
- After 2 minutes, remove them all and place them on a kitchen towel. Wait 30 minutes for them to cool down completely. Do not pat dry. Then, after 20 minutes, heat up the oil again, and wait 10 minutes. Place a small potato piece into the oil and see if the oil is ready. Once ready place all the French fries into the oil, and stir them around until golden and crispy!
- Place them on a thick kitchen towels to absorb all the excess oil and get ready to dive in! (The reason they are so crispy is due to double-frying them!).
When it comes to knife skills, the more you practice, the more you will master your knives. Make sure you have really good quality knives that are cared for immaculately, by placing them on a magnetic knife holder in the kitchen, always ready to use! Have a honing steel (knife sharpener) available to use continuously, and get chopping!