7 Knife Skills to Master Before You Go to a Culinary School
Whatever your current experience level, learning fundamental knife skills is the easiest and fastest way to look professional when cooking. Sharpening your knife skills will help you become a better chef, no matter how much experience you really have in the kitchen.
Regardless of whether you’re dicing or slicing, you’ll need a knife that is sharp, durable, and will provide precision cuts without posing any safety hazards to yourself.
You should buy an all-purpose chef’s knife, maintain its edge, and sharpen it professionally every and now and then. Handwashing your chef’s knives can also slow down its dulling process; dishwashers can accelerate it.
Generally speaking, sharper knives will produce more precise cuts.
You’ll be able to master your knife skills with the right knife. In fact, learning basic knife skills and keeping your knives sharp are essential aspects of cooking.
Having a sharp knife not only speeds up your work but also makes it safer. A blunt knife requires much more pressure to cut through foods and can result in a nasty injury if it slips.
Therefore, to be a good chef, you must know how to choose a chef knife, so you can conveniently hone your knife skills.
It is essential to maintain control at all times while using a knife. When deseeding a chili, for instance, you wouldn’t use a large chef’s knife.
Basic Knife Skills Every One Needs to Learn
Almost every recipe begins with cutting ingredients. It’s a task you will do a lot in the kitchen. A lot of cooks believe cutting slows them down. It keeps 30-minute dishes from being truly 30-minute dishes.
Is your cutting technique as efficient as it can be, even though you have done a lot of chopping?
How uniform are the sizes and shapes of the ingredients you cut? You can make a big difference in the quality of your dishes by cooking ingredients evenly, which means you should cut ingredients evenly and uniformly.
The Best Way to Hold a Knife
Learning the correct way to hold a knife is essential before diving into various knife techniques.
Good knife holding will ensure your fingers remain safe when you apply your precise cuts.
To grip a chef’s knife, grasp its handle and pinch the blade’s top between your index finger and thumb as you grasp the handle. Despite your instinct not to let go of the handle, pinching the blade will increase your control while using it.
As soon as the blade is in motion, instead of keeping your fingers flat on the table, curl them back into a claw, so that, in case the knife slips, the knife can slide off your knuckles.
By doing this, you will prevent finger-cutting accidents from happening and will have more control over the ingredients, thus speeding up the process.
Using a knife may feel instinctive to some. After all, some of you have cut food for preparing every meal.
To ensure clean, even cuts, always keep the knife’s tip firmly planted on the cutting board and gently rock the knife back and forth across the ingredients, rather than lifting it repeatedly.
A knife’s position can either make your cutting a breeze or a mess, so you should learn how to position it correctly.
During the execution of the fundamental techniques, you place your ingredient flat on the board and align your knife perpendicularly. Follow the previous rule of not lifting the knife off of the board. With your non-dominant hand, guide the ingredients toward the blade of the knife.
Always make uniform cuts, so that all ingredients can cook evenly.
A commonly used knife skill is dicing, which involves cutting ingredients into small, uniform pieces. For ingredients that don’t lie flat on a cutting board, slice them in half before dicing in order to make each half sit flat on a cutting board.
Thinly slice in a one direction, then rotate and slice the other way to create a somewhat square shape.
Peeled onions are best diced by slicing diagonally. Cut the onion vertically on the first cut and rotate it to create dices that are evenly sized.
With your basic dice movement mastered, experiment with different dice sizes by using macedoine (miniature dice) or brunoise (tiny dice), which produce cubes of ¼-inch and ⅛-inch, respectively.
You can alter your dice sizes by simply making thinner slices according to the size you want.
Chopping technique is usually employed with herbs or food items that don’t need slicing or dicing. When chopping, begin at the knife’s tip and move your knife through the ingredients roughly.
It is essential to use a razor-sharp knife when chopping herbs, and to roll, stack, or bunch your herbs, so that they can be chopped quickly and with fewer cuts. Cutting this way also brings out the flavor in your ingredients.
It resembles dicing, but involves rotating the ingredient more than when dicing. Slicing through garlics (or any other ingredients) turn it 90 degrees and cut perpendicular to the cut you would make with dicing.
Once your diced ingredients are gathered, continue slicing them until you have fine pieces left that can melt into the dish.
Using this technique, you can garnish herbs or cut them to add to dishes. It is mostly employed on leafy vegetables. Roll your leafy greens into a cigar-like shape by stacking the leaves in a uniform pile.
Slice thin, ribbon-like pieces from the cigar-like stack perpendicularly while holding it in place with one finger.
The Julienning Cut
The process of julianning entails cutting vegetables or other ingredients thinly. To create uniform lengths for your julienned pieces, cut your vegetable into two-inch segments.
Slice the vegetable into ⅛ inch-thin slices by laying it flat on the cutting board and holding the knife straight across the length of the vegetable. You can stack your slices again and repeat the process until your slices measure 2 inches long, like matchsticks.
The Way Forward
Mastering any cooking skill takes time, but knife skills, in particular, require muscle memory. Practicing these skills can even benefit seasoned chefs. Whenever possible, try to slow down, focus on your technique, and make your cuts as even and uniform as possible.