Earlier this week, we looked at how to hold a chef’s knife correctly, and how to grip food so you don’t cut yourself with your blade .
Today, we’re going to look at the 4 basic types of cuts everyone should master to make food preparation a cinch.
Once I mastered these 4 knife skills, I found I had halved the time it took for me to prepare anything!
The SliceThis is a type of cut to be used on large vegetables and meat, or if you want to roughly slice some herbs.
Remember to always use a wooden cutting board when using a knife, as it won’t dull the blade, and any scratches you create on the board won’t harbor bacteria (unlike synthetic boards).
Start by creating a flat surface for your food to rest on by either slicing off a thin layer of the face, or by cutting the food item in half.
Use a claw grip to hold item safely, and then place the tip of the blade against the cutting board, angling the chef’s knife upwards with the flat of the blade resting against your knuckles.
Slice by keeping the tip of the blade in contact with the cutting board and pulling the knife backwards slightly until it slices into the food.
Then, keep pressing downwards and push the blade forwards, using the full length to slice through your food item.
Repeat this circular motion to slice through the food completely.
Remember, the trick is to keep the tip of the blade in contact with the cutting board at all times as you slice.
The ChopThis is used for similar purposes as the slice, and most people use them interchangeably, or find a favorite and just stick to it.
A word of warning. The chop technique requires a very sharp blade, so make sure your chef’s knife is razor sharp before you begin.
Start by creating a flat surface for your food to rest on by either slicing off a thin layer of the face, or by cutting the food item in half, and use a claw grip to hold the food safely.
Now, hold the flat of the blade against your knuckles with the entire knife hovering above the cutting board and not touching the board.
Press down in one even, smooth stroke, pushing the knife ever so slightly forward as you cut. Lift up the blade and repeat to keep chopping.
The Back SliceThis is a useful technique for finely slicing delicate items, such as herbs, with minimum crushing.
Start by holding the food you wish to slice with a claw grip. If you are slicing leafy herbs, roll up the leaves into a tight bundle and hold with a claw grip.
Now, place the tip of the blade against the cutting board. The flat of the blade should be resting against your knuckles.
Hold the chef’s knife at a low angle and cut by pulling backwards steadily. Use the full length of the blade to slice through the food until the tip of blade has sliced through the food.
The trick here is to use the horizontal motion of slicing, but with NO downward motion at all (which will crush delicate items, something we don’t want).
The Rock ChopThis is a great technique that can help you finely mince fresh herbs, zest and other aromatics with ease.
Start by roughly chopping up your food item using either the slice or the chop technique above.
Now gather up all the food bits into a small pile. Place the tip of the blade onto one side of the pile of food, and hold it steady using your free hand.
Rock your chef’s knife up and down, pivoting around the tip of the blade. Re-gather the food into a pile, and repeat, until the food is as finely minced as you want.
Get these basics correct, and you’ll find food preparation becomes much easier, takes less time, and even becomes enjoyable!
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