Have you graduated from a block of knives to buying individual, high-quality knives for cooking? Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step to better cutting!
Your first knife should be a versatile chef’s knife with a weight and size that is comfortable for you. You’ll immediately notice the difference when using a chef’s knife in the ease and comfort of your cuts. There isn’t one knife that is a perfect fit for everyone, so make sure to find the knife that is ideal for your chopping, mincing and dicing needs.
Once you’ve picked out your knife, it’s time to get familiar with how to use it. Here are five tips to help you use your chef’s knife to its maximum potential.
Control. Want increased control of your knife? Try gripping it by the base of the knife blade right in front of the handle with your thumb and index finger. Your other three fingers should wrap around the handle of the knife. This will feel weird at first but after a couple times you’ll realize you have much better control of your knife.
Cutting. When chopping your vegetables, don’t cut straight down but try running the knife through the vegetable by sliding it away from you while pressing down. This will require a chef’s knife with a long blade, but the slice will be more diagonal with less effort. Put the blade near the tip of the knife in the vegetable so that you have room to slice forward. Watch your other hand when cutting; hold the food with your fingers curled back like a bear claw so that you don’t cut off a finger that has gotten in the way.
Sharpen your knives! In order to continue cutting smoothly and with ease, always keep your knives sharp. Your knife should easily (and cleanly) cut through ingredients without needing a lot of force. Not sure if your knife is sharp enough? Try slicing through a tomato. A sharp knife can get through tomato skin without damaging the inside of the tomato or squeezing the juice out.
Stability. Stabilize your cutting board with a rubber mat or wet towel underneath. This will keep the board from slipping underneath you, potentially causing you to cut yourself. In addition to wanting a stable cutting board, you’ll probably want your food to be stable as well, so cut the ends of rounded fruits and vegetables so that they lie flat.
Know your cuts. There are different ways to cut foods and different tricks for each.
- Chiffonade: Rolling and slicing. For example, stack up a few pieces of basil, roll them and thinly slice.
- Dice: Cutting a vegetable into cubes of a small, specific size.
- Mince: Roughly chop then rock your knife back and forth for an even smaller size.
- Julienne: Cutting a food item into long, thin strips similar to matchsticks. Carrots and peppers are popular julienne items.