In the Kitchen: Slicing and Dicing Foods like the Pros

You may not think much about how you chop your food in the kitchen, but top chefs have a whole range of techniques they rely on. In fact, there are various slicing methods used by the pros, and it can help you to make the most from your food preparation. Here are some tips on slicing and dicing, along with some advice on which knife you should be using.

Slicing & Chopping

Slicing and chopping are two of the main skills you will use in the kitchen. Slicing is a technique for meats and large vegetables, and you should ideally use a chef’s knife for this.

Simply slice the item of food in half to create a flat surface, then hold it steady with your fingers curled up. Place the tip of the knife on the board and rest the flat side against your knuckles. Then, keeping the tip of the knife against the board, pull backwards until it cuts into the food and then push forwards and down along the length to slice through.

Chopping is a similar process, but it is a more precise form of cutting. You can use a Santoku knife for this, which should be very sharp (watch this video for a guide to how to sharpen your knives properly). Lift the entire knife from the board and then press downwards in one stroke with a slight forward shift.

The Julienne Cut

The julienne cut is used to create very thin stick shapes like matchsticks. First, square off your item, then slice it lengthways very thin in widths of about 2mm. This produces thin rectangular cuts, and you can then take these slices and slice again into very thin pieces.

The Back-Slice

This is used to make very fine slices of more delicate items like herbs using a chef’s knife or a Santoku knife. Stack the leaves and roll them up into a bundle, then curl your fingers up and tuck your knuckles underneath. With the tip of the blade against the board, keep it at a low angle and pull back, using the length of blade to slice. There should be no downward motion at all, just slicing.

Dicing

There are various forms of dicing, from the tiny brunoise dice to the large dice. They all involve squaring off the item of food and then chopping them into the required size. For small and brunoise dicing, start by using the julienne cut, then simply keep on going until they are the right size. Or simply square off your item and cut it into larger cubes for the large dice, which is ideal for stews because it is quick and will give it a professional appearance.

Choosing Your Knives

With all these cuts, you want to make sure you have the right knife for the job. There are a number of knives you can choose from, but only professional chefs really need all of them.

Chef knives like those found at Bed Bath and Beyond are one of the must-have knives in your kitchen. These all-purpose blades are between eight and 14 inches long, and they are used for general tasks.

Paring knives are shorter, from two to four inches, and they are great for more delicate tasks like trimming and slicing small fruits. However, you may prefer to use a utility knife, which is another all-purpose knife up to about eight inches in length.

The Santoku knife, mentioned for some of the cuts above, is another multi-purpose blade that is also great for slicing and dicing. It is a lighter alternative to the chef’s knife, and you may want to use it if you have smaller hands.

Other knives you may want to include in your collection are the serrated knife, which is used for cutting bread and other items that are firm on the outside and soft in the center; and the boning knife, which is small and very sharp, and which is mainly for trimming the fat from meat and carving meat from bones.

Prepare Your Food like a Pro

Using the correct knife and the right type of slice or cut for the task can speed up your food preparation time and give your food a professional appearance, as well as helping you to avoid overcooking or undercooking your food. So choose the right knives and get practicing with these professional techniques.

Patricia Cahoon is an interior decorator. She likes to share her decorating insights online. Her articles can be found on home improvement and renovation sites.

sliced-onions

Comments

  1. I watch all the cooking shows and dreaming of cutting like a pro!!! I guess practice makes perfect and I should be happy I haven't cut myself yet!! lol

  2. i always cut myself when i'm chopping and dicing

  3. lyndac1968 says

    Having good knives and the proper ones sure help, I still use my butcher knives from when I was still working, no one touches those they are super sharp!!

  4. I'm not bad at cutting but I'm certainly not as fast as a pro! I manage to get the job done and keep all my fingers so good enough! Lol!

  5. Victoria Ess says

    Great breakdown. I can't do a thing in the kitchen without a good set of proper knives.

  6. Stephanie LaPlante says

    We have a lovely knife set that makes us feel like pros. lol

  7. I usually just grab any knife and cut, I should try out some different knives for a change.

  8. kathy downey says

    I'm certainly not as fast as a pro,but I love all the tips thanks

  9. nicolthepickle says

    I make a lot of meals, but my slicing and dicing certainly could be improved. Thanks for the tips.

  10. I love using the Julienne cut on veggies – it transforms the meal!!!

  11. nenasinclair says

    Good knives are so important! The techniques, however, I do have some problems with, as I have a badly crippled hand. For the most part, though, I manage ok!

  12. Wanda Tracey says

    I usually grab a good sharp knife to do my slicing and dicing on a good cutting board.I am not too bad at it as I have had lots of practise.

  13. Elva Roberts says

    I would like to be more professional when I am preparing raw food for salads and cooking. I love your tips, the knife to choose and where to buy it. Thank you so much for helping us in the preparation of our food.

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