One of the most important steps in your culinary journey is learning what you can do with your chef's knife. Today we will be talking about 4 different cutting techniques that can help hone your culinary skills, as well as 8 different types of cut. Proper knife skills are essential because not only does it make cooking and preparation easier and safer, but it also gives you more confidence. While some of these techniques may need a lot of practice, once you start learning and progressing, it starts to become second nature to you, and this is what will set you apart from the rookies.
The cross chop is good for quick and fine chops. This technique is mainly used on herbs and small vegetables. To cross chop, you simply hold the knife's handle with your dominant hand and put your non-dominant palm on the spine of the blade. When you chop, you want to constantly keep the blade's tip on the cutting board and only lift the handle. The hand that is on the spine will help guide and control the blade.
The rock chop is similar to cross chop; the only difference is that your non-dominant hand will be pushing the ingredient through the blade. To ensure that the blade does not land on your fingers, you want to ensure that your non-dominant hand is in a claw-like shape, ensuring that your fingertips are behind your knuckle. In terms of technique, it is very similar to the cross chop. You want to make sure that the blade's tip stays connected to the board and only lift the handle.
The chop is interchangeable with the cross chop. The chop is used for cutting vegetables and herbs precisely. First, you will need a very sharp knife to effectively chop without damaging your food. Then, create a flat surface on your food by slicing off a thin section or cutting it in half. Hold the food steady with your non-dominant hand using the claw position we have talked about. Hold the flat side of the blade against your knuckles, and with the entire knife, lift above the knuckle and press down in a smooth and even stroke. Repeat this motion and move the food forward with your non-dominant hand.
Slicing is usually used when you want to create fine slides on delicate ingredients such as herbs. If you wanted to slice basil, you would first want to layer your basil leaves on top of each other and roll it into a tight bundle. Hold the basil steady with your non-dominant hand, and remember to curl it into a claw shape to ensure that you do not cut yourself. Now place the tip of the blade against the cutting board with the blade resting on your knuckles. Hold the knife at a low angle and pull back until the tip of the blade slices completely through the food.
Types of CutJulienne Cut:
Julienne is a French cooking term. You hear about this type of cut when the vegetable, meat, or fruits are cut into thin strips or slices. Usually, the strips are around 8cm (3in) in length and around 3mm (⅛in) thick. This cut is considered to be one of the basic knife techniques as it will not only help with plating but it will also give you more control.
The baton/batonnet is a matchstick knife cut. The baton cut is slightly thicker than the batonnet and is usually used when cutting fries. The batonnet, on the other hand, is perfect for a vegetable platter or stir fry.
Brunoise is a French cooking term where the vegetables are cut into small cubes of precise and uniform measurement. A regular gives you cubes 3mm (⅛ in) in size. This type of cut is usually used when you are making sauces. You tend to cut vegetables such as carrots, celery and leeks into little cubes when cooking a sauce.
Paysanne cut is considered to be more rustic and simple. To create a paysanne, you want to create a large batonnet that is 1cm (½ in) by 1cm ( ½ in), then you cut the batonnet into thin square slices. They should look like little tiles. However, a paysanne does not have to be square, it can be any shape most of the time it is cut in the shape of the vegetable. They are perfect for soups such as minestrone or chicken noodle.
This type of cut is typically seen when cutting herbs and leafy greens into thin strips or ribbons. To chiffonade basil, you would stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them into a tube and then carefully cut across the ends of the roll of the tube to create strips. This cutting method can be used as a garnish as well as to flavor the dishes.
Very similar to a brunoise, the difference is that a brunoise is much smaller than a dice. There are also many different sizes to dice; it all depends on how large you want it and what you are cooking. To dice, you just would want to first julienne the vegetable and then bunch them together and cut them into square tiles.
This cut is specific to cutting potatoes. You first wash and skin the potatoes, then cut your potatoes into rectangles that are 2cm (1in) by 7cm (3in). They are essentially chunkier chips.
After going through the 4 main cuts and the 7 different types of cuts, you should be ready to practice cutting. I would also recommend going on youtube for a more in-depth tutorial of cutting techniques and different types of cuts. Once you have mastered your cutting technique, you are on your way to becoming a pro home chef.