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River Cottage Australia

5 Knife Techniques Every Cook Should Know

Paul explains the five knife skills every home cook should know, and how to implement them using a chef’s knife on a range of produce.

Learning these techniques can give your cooking a professional aesthetic, while still being easy and, most importantly, achievable.

A chef’s knife - commonly called a cook’s knife - is the primary knife for most chefs in food preparation. This particular type of knife normally has a blade that is 8 inches in length and 1.5 inches wide, although this can vary.

What you will need for this tutorial:

• 1 x Chef's Knife
• Produce – Carrots, Cabbage, Capsicum, Onion and Potatoes

Method:

CHOP

This most basic of knife skills is simple to learn and the best for cutting proteins or produce that doesn’t have to be cut into uniform sizes. The most common chop uses the tip of the knife as a fulcrum while moving the knife up and down keeping the tip of the knife in contact with the cutting board. Take care to keep fingers away from the blade. Pros use their knuckles against the blade to protect finger tips (see image above). 

SLICE

Slicing differs from chopping in that a slice requires the blade to come up from the cutting board. The tip of the blade is placed at the farthest point of the object to be cut at about a 45 degree angle. The first cut is away from you as you push the back of the blade through the object. The tip of the blade should touch the cutting board before the rear of the object. Depending upon size, a backward cut that pulls the knife with the tip touch back through the object may be necessary.

CHIFFONADE

While technically classified as a cooking technique, chiffonade is also an important knife skill. It is used to cut herbs or leafy green vegetables into long strips for cooking or a garnish. First, stack the leaves into a pile and roll them tightly into a long, tight tube. Next, turn the tube a quarter turn and cut across it no more than 1/8 inch apart. This will produce fine ribbons of leaves.

JULIENNE

The julienne cut is a strip cut that results in uniform strips or matchstick-like cuts. A strip cut begins by cutting the food into uniform planks. Next stack the planks and cut into uniform strips. There are several strip cuts that include:

  •   Fine Julienne - 1/16 inch × 1/16 inch × 2 inches
  •   Julienne - 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2½ inches
  •   Allumette  - ¼ inch × ¼ inch × 2½-3 inches
  •   Battonette - ½ inch × ½ inch × 2½-3 inches

DICE

The dice is a basic knife cut that results in food being cut into uniform cube shapes. All dice cuts begin with first doing a strip cut and turning the strips a quarter turn before cutting to your desired cube size. There are several dice shapes that include:
 

  • Fine Brunoise - 1/16 inch × 1/16 inch × 1/16 inch – begins with a fine cut
  •   Brunoise - 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch – begins with a julienne cut
  •   Small Dice - ¼ inch × ¼ inch × ¼ inch – begins with an allumette cut
  •   Medium Dice - ½ inch × ½ inch × ½ inch – begins with a battonette cut
  •   Large Dice - ¾ inch × ¾ inch × ¾ inch – begins with a larger battonette cut
 
 

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