Get slices, cut thinly, chop, cut into julienne, etc., etc., etc… In the cooking world there are a thousand ways to cut food, and each of them has a technique and associated movements, which define – therefore – the ideal use of our favorite tool: the knife. Let’s see what can be done with the chef’s knife and the best way to do it.
Holding the knife
Regardless of whether you are a professional or an amateur cook, if you learn to hold the knife properly, the work will be much simpler and the result will be better.
The handle is grasped with three fingers, middle, ring and little. Meanwhile, the index finger and thumb hold the blade one on each side of the knife, just next to the point where the blade and handle are attached, but far from the edge (near the spine, therefore).
Moving the food for cutting
While one hand holds the knife, the other hand will direct the food for cutting. To avoid harming or cutting on your fingers, bend them as a claw when you grab the food, so that the nail is in upright position and the knuckles touch the blade, minimizing the risk of getting hurt.
Chef’s cutting techniques
Mincing, chopping and slicing are the most common techniques in cooking. Once you have the knife, you need a good cutting board to protect both the knife and the surface of the kitchen (as well as your fingers, as it will prevent the knife from slipping).
The edge of the Chef’s knife is slightly curved. This allows a rocking motion and facilitates a precise cut. You must keep the tip of the knife in contact with the board and put pressure with the hand over the knife. The rocking motion on the food will help us to obtain a good result. This movement is perfect for slicing food.
To chop vegetables or herbs, you need a sharp knife that cuts finely, without damaging the product. ¿How? On a cutting board, we make the following movement: instead of keeping the tip always resting on the board, the knife moves perpendicular to the surface. That is, with the straight knife, we put pressure on the food to cut it vertically. The hand that does not use the knife holds the food with the fingers in claw shape to avoid getting hurt.
Especially for herbs or foods that we need to chop very finely, we can use both hands. With your skillful hand, hold the handle as indicated above. The hand that normally holds the food is placed on the spine of the knife, but in the area closest to the tip. You exert pressure with both hands alternatively, causing the knife to swing. From time to time, rejoin the food in a little pile, so that you can continue cutting, because the movement of the knife will cause it to spread through the board.