Tips

How to Chop Like a Pro

Aug 01, 2020

The quickest route to a tasty meal is a sharp knife with a sure blade. May we suggest our Chef's Knife? Getting your knife skills in shape will cut down on cooking time with efficient prep and will help keep you safe by securing stray fingers.

Here’s our guide to achieving fast, clean cuts at home. Who knows? You may even impress some guests along the way.

Get a Good Grip

Good knife skills start with a precise grip. Pinch the base of the blade between your thumb and index finger. Then, wrap the rest of your fingers around the handle. This means that only three of your fingers will be securing the knife’s handle in the palm of your hand. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, this grip enables the most precise control and allows you to use the full weight of the knife to your advantage, so you can fly through that stack of root vegetables without tiring out your arm.

Protect Your Other Hand

Keep the fingers of your non-chopping hand safely tucked away by curling them under your knuckles, as though you were squeezing the juice out of half a lemon. Some chefs call this position the “scary bear claw.” Then, hold the ingredient you’re slicing with just the tips of your fingers. Your knuckles will extend past your fingertips, guarding them against damage while you slice away.

Stay in the Rhythm

No matter the ingredient or whether it’s a slice, dice, chiffonade, or julienne you’re after, all cuts share the same basic motion. Start by pressing forward through the heel of your hand to rock the knife blade from front to back. Try using the force from your shoulder rather than your hand or arm. When the base of blade hits the cutting board, pick it up and repeat the motion, rocking from front to back. Meanwhile, use your non-chopping hand to feed the ingredient toward the blade. String a few of these together, and you’ll achieve a speedy chop in no time.

Know Your Chops

Dice - a wide square cut.

This technique is most frequently used with onions or carrots. To properly dice an onion, peel off the skin, but leave the root fully intact. Then cut the onion in half through the root (so there’s a bit of root on each half). This will keep the onion together while you cut it. Point the tip of the blade towards the root and cut ¼ inch slices into the onion about ¾ of the way through. Now turn the onion 90º and cut slices parallel to the root. A perfectly even dice should fall right out.

Mince - the same shape as a dice, but smaller.

Practice on a shallot with the exact same technique as above, but aim for ⅛ inch slices instead of ¼.

Julienne - a thin, long match stick slice.

This technique of cutting into thin strips is typically used on zucchinis, carrots, or celery. First, cut your vegetable crosswise into 2.5-3 inch lengths, then thinly slice lengthwise into thin slabs. Then, stack those slabs and once again cut lengthwise into 1/16- to 1/8-inch-thick strips.

Once you’ve tried these techniques, the only thing left to practice. So grab a Chef's Knife and a cutting board and get into the rhythm. Then, show off your slicing skills by tagging @getequalparts on instagram.

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