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Food & Drink

Five basic knife skills

According to the culinary arts, there is a way to cut your ingredients, depending on the food and the desired outcome. Here are five common knife techniques you will need for food preparation.

Julienne -- cutting vegetables into long, thin strips

  • Peel the vegetable and place it on a cutting board.
  • Grasp a knife with your dominant hand. Hold the handle near the blade with your pinky, ring and middle fingers. Hold your thumb against one side of the blade and wrap your index finger around the other side.
  • Steady the vegetable with your non-dominant hand. Curl your fingers slightly so that your knuckles point outward; your fingertips are steady.
  • Slice off the ends of the vegetable.
  • Cut your vegetable across, in sections the length of your eventual pieces.
  • Cut the sides of one section. It should now look like a block.
  • Slice even slabs of the section, less than half an inch thick.
  • Stack the slabs vertically. Again, make even slices across, again less than half an inch thick.

Dicing -- cutting vegetables into small blocks

  • Hold the top of the vegetable with the base of your non-dominant hand at the cutting board's edge.
  • Make horizontal cuts from the bottom to the top of the vegetable.
  • Steady the vegetable with your non-dominant hand and make vertical cuts across the top of the vegetable.
  • Turn the vegetable around, about the length of a quarter.
  • Steady the vegetable again and slice across the top, from your cutting side to your steadying side.

Mincing -- cutting root plants, such as garlic, into tiny pieces

  • Crush each garlic clove with the side of your knife.
  • Remove the skin from each clove.
  • Crush the garlic again.
  • Add salt if desired.
  • Put your non-dominant hand atop the blade and hold the edge of the handle with your dominant hand using your thumb, index and middle fingers.
  • Rock the knife back and forth along the cloves.
  • Crush the cloves once more with the side of your knife.
  • Cut and crush again until the garlic has been minced to your satisfaction.

Chiffonade -- cutting leafy vegetables into slim strips

  • Remove any stem that is still connected to the vegetable.
  • Stack about three or four leaves on top of one another.
  • Roll the stack up securely.
  • Grasp your knife with your dominant hand. Hold the handle near the blade with your pinky, ring and middle fingers. Hold your thumb against one side of the blade and wrap your index finger around the other side.
  • With your non-dominant hand, steady the leaves as you hold them horizontally in front of you.
  • Make thin slices about one-eighth an inch along the leafs at a 60-degree angle.
  • Stack another three or four leaves and begin again. Stop when you have enough.

Chopping -- cutting a vegetable into small pieces

  • Cut the vegetable into two pieces.
  • Place one half on the cutting board on the side that has been cut.
  • Cut the vegetable about one-fourth of an inch apart lengthwise.
  • Hold the top of the vegetable.
  • Make horizontal cuts parallel to the board.
  • Steady the vegetable and cut across the vegetable from the dominant to non-dominant side.