Cooking 101: Knife Skills and Techniques
Julienne, chiffonade, and mince, oh my!
So you've equipped your kitchen with our handy Kitchen Essentials guide and are more confident about navigating the tools it takes to create a delicious dish. Great! But before we are on Martha Stewart's level, we need to touch on the essential skill the Everygirl needs in her arsenal: basic chopping techniques.
It's also important to know your knives. So, as a quick refresher, here are some tips from culinary school graduate Victoria McGinley:
- 8"-10" Chef's knife: Your kitchen workhorse for slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing. Prices can vary from $30 to well over $100. But note: This is definitely a tool worth investing in.
- Bread (serrated) knife: A must-have for cutting tomatoes and slicing bread. Serrated knives cut these items easily, without crushing the food.
- Paring knife: Great for smaller cutting jobs, like slicing lemons or cheese. When entertaining, your paring knife can also be set out with a bar cutting board for guests to cut garnishes.
A note about knives: Finding the right knife for you is a bit like finding shoes that fit perfectly—you need to try on before you know. Stop into a specialty cookware store (like Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table) and hold different brands and styles of knives in your hand. Don't purchase a knife just because it looks good in the case. Some people like a knife that feels heavier in their hand, while others prefer something nice and light. Invest in a good knife, hand wash it, hone it, have it sharpened regularly, and it's an investment that will last for years. Look for high carbon steel knives with a full tang. They'll stay sharper, become less stained over time, and will give you the greatest control when chopping.
Now on to the chopping styles!
Today, we're covering five chopping styles that we often use in our recipes: slice, julienne, dice, mince, and chiffonade. We're using a random mix of produce but feel free to practice with whatever is in your refrigerator.
Lay vegetable on clean cutting board and slowly cut down from the top to create uniform pieces.
Julienne means cutting into long, thin strips. We julienned a bell pepper by cutting off both ends, removing the seeds, and cutting the pepper into a small, manageable rectangle. From there, slice thinly.
We learned how to dice an onion from our friend Google! These 10 steps with pictures from Wiki-How show you the exact steps to get it done right.
To mince garlic, firmly press down on garlic with a large chef's knife until smashed. Roughly chop and repeat until you have fine pieces.
Chiffonade is a fancy name for rolling and slicing. All you need to do is stack spinach or herbs, roll, then thinly slice. Perfect as a garnish!
What other kitchen skills would you like to learn more about? Let us know and we'll share our expertise!