HOW TO CUT
As a home cook all you really need are the 5 basic cuts: Large dice, slice, chiffonade, diagonal cut and mince.
- The key to successful cutting is having a good quality knife. It makes all the difference and helps speed up the time you spend in the kitchen. The two main knives you will mostly use are a 8" chef's knife or santoku knife and a paring knife.
- Keep knives sharpened after each use. This ensures precision and prolonged quality in the knives. Jamie Olivier has a great video on how to sharpen knives.
- Always make sure your ingredient is stable on the cutting board -- this can be done through creating flat surfaces by trimming away all the rounded parts to create a sturdy grip. This helps avoid cuts on the hands and make pieces more uniform.
- Uniformity should be key in cutting. It ensures that the ingredients cook at the same time
Large and Small Dice
Large dice is useful for roasting, baking, stews -- about 3/4" cubes and small dice is useful for sautees, soups, salads about 1/4-1/2" cubes.
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Thick and Thin Slice
Slicing is great for round ingredients (onions, tomatoes, apples, oranges) Thick slices are great for roasting, kebabs and baking and thin slices are perfect for stif-rys, sautés, salads and sandwiches.
How to slice a tomato
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Chiffonade is used for big-leaved ingredients. Think leafy herbs like basil and sage, or larger plants like lettuces, kales, or chard. You can either do a thick chiffonade for a rustic salad or soup or a thin chiffonade for a delicate touch in a pasta or sauce. Stack several leaves of similar size together and roll tightly lengthwise, if you are working with a leafy green that has a tough core (kale, collards, etc) take the tip of your knife and trim it out. Slice the roll crosswise with the knife and pieces will unroll into thinly chopped ribbons.
How to chop kale
Diagonal cuts are perfect for oblong shaped ingredients like carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and such. You can choose to either cut them whole or, for smaller cuts, slice the ingredient lengthwise and then continue with the diagonal cut. You can even cut thinner by stacking the diagonal cuts on top of each other and slice lengthwise for rough matchstick cuts. These cuts are useful for sautés, baking, roasting, salads and sandwiches.
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Half Diagonal Cut
Mincing is used for potent ingredients like spicy peppers, garlic, ginger, flavorful herbs. The idea is to chop to smallest extent possible (within logical means) and commonly used for sautéing, dressings, marinades, and sauces. The key is the just chop continuously over and over again, until a fine grain like consistency forms.
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