People tend to overlook the importance of chopping correctly in a kitchen. They associate chopping skills with fancy cooking which is not the case. Anyone who likes cooking or is learning how to cook needs to understand the different types of chopping styles. This helps in the vegetables being uniform and speeds things along. I cannot stress how important it is to have a good-quality sharp knife. Buying a chef knife and a cutting board are compulsory in any kitchen. It will help you become more efficient, gain control, and provide experience as you will be using it for years to come. There are a lot of cuts that are used for different types of dishes and businesses. You must understand the balance between speed, uniformity, and wastage. If you want your cutting to be fast and in a uniform fashion, you will end up wasting a lot of material from the vegetable you are cutting. You can reduce your speed and decrease the amount of wastage with decent uniform cuts. If you want to cut fast and have low waste, you’ll have to compromise on uniformity. The idea is to create a perfect balance between the three, which will come with time and practice. We will go through some popular types of cuts and explain where to use them.
1) Julienne Cut
The julienne cut, which is also known as the French cut in popular cooking culture, is a way to cut your choice of fruit or vegetable in thin, long strips that resemble matchsticks. Julienning is commonly performed on veggies like carrots, beetroot, celery, and potatoes. The standard dimension to be followed in a julienne cut is 1/8″ * 1/4″ * 2″. It is said to have originated from the allumette cut (1/16″ * 1/16″ * 2”), which is a bit larger than the julienne.
2) Brunoise Cut
Also referred to as the fine dice or the square allumette, the brunoise cut is the equal size of dices which is achieved by first chopping the item in an allumette cut, then making fine dices out of it. A brunoise cut has the dimensions of 1/16″ * 1/6″ * 1/16″. Leeks, turnips, onions, carrot, and celery are commonly chopped following the brunoise cut for salads, soups, and garnishing.
Chiffonade or shredding is where you use your knife to perform a slicing motion rather than a cutting movement. It is performed on leafy vegetables that can be bent and rolled. Chiffonade is achieved by placing the vegetables or herbs on top of each other and rolling them into a tight roll. Then, using a sharp knife, we slice through these well-stacked leaves so that they open up into long, thin strips. There is no one particular dimension to this cut as it is used with vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, spinach, basil, and other leafy greens. The term chiffonade is a French word that means “tiny ribbons”.
A widespread form of cutting style that is known to every individual who has ever held a knife. Slicing is performed on all sorts of food items but particularly for meat and large vegetables like onions, cabbage, radishes, and carrots. In slicing, you move the knife in a rocking motion instead of bringing it straight down like a French guillotine. The first objective is to slice the food item in half so that there is a flat side to work with and then to slice it in the desired length and thickness. This is generally used for curries and rough-slicing herbs.
Mincing is used for both vegetables and meat. Typical examples of mincing are seen in aromatic foods like garlic, ginger, chili pepper, and meat like chicken, beef, or lamb. Mincing aims to provide tiny equal pieces as it goes through a grinder.
Not typically a part of the cutting family but an essential member of the kitchen, crushing involves the pressing and squeezing of a food product between the two flat surfaces, commonly using a chopping board and the flat side of a chef’s knife. Garlic and ginger are two common examples of spices that are crushed before using.