The way that ingredients are prepared no doubt governs the quality of the overall cooking experience, and subsequently, of the final dish. Fortunately, there are a number of fruitful cutting techniques that enable us to shape our ingredients as desired.
We’ve detailed the eight most prominent cutting styles below.
It’s never too late to get practicing and excel in the culinary arts, so take note!
The Julienne cut is a French term that refers to cutting ingredients into long thin planks. Whether vegetables, meats, or even fruits, the strips are usually roughly three inches in length, and as thin as matchsticks. Hence, the Julienne is otherwise known as the ‘matchstick cut’.
Of course, the best chefs ensure that the julienned strips are perfectly uniform, and utilize a chef’s or paring knife to do so.
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The Julienne style cut is a prerequisite for the Brunoise cut, yet another French term. Carrying out a Brunoise cut consists of dicing the julienned ingredient into even cubes that are roughly 3mm in size. It is considered to be the finest way to dice an ingredient, and a chef's knife is the recommended tool for the job.
Interestingly, the Brunoise technique is not a great match for every ingredient out there. In fact, it favours vegetables with a crunch, such as carrots and onions, and is generally deemed inapt for softer ingredients.
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Mincing is the only cutting technique that is capable of producing an even finer result than the Brunoise. In fact, it’s the perfect method to adopt when sautéeing or creating a garnish.
Recipes commonly call for minced garlic and onion, and whilst many turn to their food processors to fulfill the job, chef and paring knives are just as impactful, if not more so.
Contrary to popular belief, chopping is not an umbrella term for all types of cuts. Rather, chopping is merely one cutting technique of many, and is best defined as cutting ingredients into bite sized pieces, of which their uniformity is not a priority.
The most appropriate knife to chop with is dictated by the ingredient. For instance, by way of their thoughtful designs, a butcher’s knife or cleaver are the most effective knives to utilize when tough meats and vegetables are on the menu.
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The cube technique is essentially a much more groomed and tidy version of the above mentioned casual chop. Whether small, medium, or large sized cuts are in demand, the cube cut can be employed for a wide range of foods.
Whether required to transform bread into croutons or to cook up parmentier potatoes, the cube cut has proven to be intrinsically versatile, time and time again.
Whilst the dicing technique is similar to that of the cube, the cut results in ingredients that are both smaller in size, and even more refined.
For this reason, it’s the ideal cutting style for ensuring that an abundance of flavour and texture are found throughout every aspect of the dish at hand. The resulting tiny cubes are of an excellent shape and size for aesthetic salads, salsas, and the like.
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If thinly sliced herbs are what you are after, the chiffonade is your best bet. French for ‘made of rags’, this technique consists of rolling up and cutting across herbs or leafy greens to create thinner strands, much akin to ribbons. The Chiffonade cut is a brilliant way to spruce up any dish, and is commonly put to use for salads and pizza toppings.
Almost any chef knife is capable of executing the Chiffonade, and a paring knife is just as effective of a choice too.
Much like the chopping technique, slicing is a fairly generic term. After all, it’s fairly tricky to think of an ingredient that can’t be sliced.
However, the method itself is more specific than it may sound. To slice is to cut an ingredient thinly and evenly, although the resulting slice of ingredient tends not to be as thin as those that are Julienned.
Whether a slice of bread, pie, or apple, slicing is a tried and true cutting method.
Whilst the dice may be a more refined version of the chop, and the Julienne cut may be an implicit aspect of the Brunoise method, similarities aside, each of the eight cutting techniques serve a culinary purpose of their own.
One would only fare well in the kitchen by learning and practicing each type of cut.
Nonetheless, practice alone is not enough. To truly do ingredients the justice that they deserve, it’s imperative to be equipped with a high quality, dependable knife, and sharp edged chef knives are the prevalent choice.