When a recipe calls for a specific technique such as julienne or chiffonade, there’s a reason for it. You may need to chop vegetables in varying sizes so they cook in the same time, or cut them finely so they cook fast in a stir-fry. Here’s how to sharpen those knife skills to make you a better cook.
To slice: Slicing is not just cutting, but using the length of the blade to cut through the food. Start the cut at the heel end of the blade, and pull the blade back towards you, then repeat.
Good for: zucchini, sweet potato, carrot and meat.
To julienne: Cut the food into slices, stack a few slices on top of each other, and cut into thin sticks.
Good for: potato chips, capsicum, root vegetables, crudite, bacon.
To dice: Cut the food into slices and stack as for julienne, cutting into sticks, or batons. Rotate them 90 degrees, and cut crosswise into dice. Large dice are 2cm square, medium dice are 1.2cm square, and fine dice (brunoise) are 3mm square. Good for: onions, carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, tofu, apples.
To chiffonade: To transform leafy greens and herbs into super-fine ribbons, first remove any stalks or ribs. Stack 4 or 5 leaves on top of each other and roll them into a tight cylinder, then finely slice crosswise. Pull the shreds apart to separate before using as a garnish to curry, soup or salad.
Good for: silverbeet, spinach, basil, makrut lime leaves.
To mince: Do a rough chop first, then use your free hand to press the blade end firmly on the board while you chop again, using a rocking motion.
Good for: garlic, ginger, fresh herbs.
Top tip: If you’re learning to chop, or you are teaching someone else to chop, buy a huge celery, and break it down into stalks. Practise your “claw” technique, allowing the blade to virtually push your knuckles along each stalk as you chop. Then make soup.
The best recipes from Australia's leading chefs straight to your inbox.Sign up