There’s an adage in the world of cooking and cutting which has great merit. It goes like this:
“A dull knife is more treacherous than a sharp knife.” Oh, so true. And, I would add that sharp knives make your life in the kitchen not only much easier and quicker, but allow you to do even more when it comes to preparation–from meats to vegetables. And you will find the food tastes better.
For most fledgling cooks (and even some apparent “pros”) knowing how to use the knife is daunting. So here are a few tips and terminology (in traditional French parlance)on the most used cuts which should be practiced until comfort at the counter and in your hand is achieved.
When cutting, always curl your fingers under to hold the food and use your knuckles to guide the knife.
Brunoise – Cubes. Usually 1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8 inch sizes
Small Dice — 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4
Medium Dice — 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2
Large Dice — 3/4 x 3/4 x 3/4
Rondelle – Round or Bias Cuts – Any Size
Paysanne – Square//Rectangular – usually 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 inch sizes
Lozenge – Diamond Shaped – usually 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 inch
Fermiere – Irregular Shaped – any size
Batonnet – Long and large julienne, usually 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4 x 2 inches
Julienne – (Allumette) small and thin, 1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8 by 2 or more inches or smaller if you can
And, of course, Tourne. This is pretty fancy. Imagine the shape of a small bar of Dove soap; except this cut traditionally has seven (7) sides! Used mostly by the best chefs in the best restaurants.
Concasser — to chop coarsely
Emincer: — to slice thinly
Mince: — to chop fine
Shred: — cut into thin strips
Hope this inspires you to do more. Remember to watch your fingers!
To your Health,