The best chefs in the world know a myriad of knife techniques. Yet even novice cooks looking to earn their chef jackets can quickly pick up a few cutting strategies with a little bit of effort. Using the proper cutting techniques will make you a better chef, help you create better food and also keep your fingers safely attached to your hand. Below, we take a look at five knife techniques easy to learn with practice.
The tournee cutting technique is typically used on large, tough vegetables like carrots and potatoes. The best type of knife to use for a tournee cut is a tourne knife or a bird’s beak knife. Each of these knives has a blade that curves. A rounded blade is necessary to shape the food into oblongs. Begin by cutting off the far edges of the vegetable. Then trim them into a length of 2 inches or so. Use the bird’s beak knife to cut the trimmed food into very small oval shapes. These add a nice bit of flare to a meal that needs it.
Chiffonade is often thought of as a cooking skill but the best chefs still consider it to be a knife technique. The chiffonade cutting method is typically used to slice leafy greens, vegetables and herbs into long, thin strips. These strips are then either cooked or used as a garnishment next to a main course. To chiffonade, begin by putting the leafy greens or herbs into a small pile. Roll them together to form an elongated tube shape. Make sure that they are tightly packed. Then turn this tube a quarter turn and cut across it no more than 1/8 inch apart. This will produce fine ribbons of leaves.
Chopping: Tip Fulcrum And Wrist Fulcrum
One of the simplest to learn knife skills is chopping. Begin by placing your middle, ring and pinky fingers around the knife’s handle. Take a hold of the top and sides of the knife blade with your thumb and index finger. Then place the tip of the blade towards the end of the food that you plan on chopping. Move your wrist and hand up and down at the same time in repetitive motions to perform the actual chopping. This is known as the tip fulcrum chopping method.
You can also chop with the wrist fulcrum method where the part of the blade nearest to the knife handle is kept towards the cutting board and the very end of the knife blade is pointed a bit upward. This is called the wrist fulcrum chopping method because your wrist will act as a fulcrum that swings up and down, over and over, to make the knife blade perform the chopping motion.
Unlike chopping, slicing takes the knife blade up and off of the cutting surface. Begin by placing the far end of the knife’s blade as far to the end of the food that is to be sliced. Set the knife tip against the food at a 45 degree angle. The beginning of the slice will be a motion away from your body where you move the back section of the knife blade into the food. This allows the knife tip to press against the cutting surface before the back part of the blade. Repeat the motion until the food is sliced to completion.
In French, batonnet means “stick”. The batonnet cutting method is central to dice cutting and “julienne” style cuts. You can batonnet almost any food. Start by cutting the very ends of the food off and cut out a rectangle by sliding the knife along all four sides of the food in straight vertical and horizontal lines
Then take the cut out rectangle and cut it into pieces about a quarter of an inch each. Place them on top of one another in a neat pile and cut them once more into smaller pieces. If you want to cut a true batonnet, the final size should measure approximately 2.5 to 3 inches long.