In readying the components for cooking, one must find out the fundamental cutting techniques utilizing the knife. The knife can be a chef’s knife, kitchen knife, cleaver, or butcher knife. Each has its proper function in the cutting technique.
The chef’s knife is used for slicing and chopping vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry. Its versatility enables the cook to do all these cutting techniques without having to change knives. Slicing is simply cutting the portions in regular sizes – not too small or big. You can slice fish into sashimi-sized pieces, chicken breast into bite sized portions, tomatoes in halves, onions into rings, zucchini into small chunks.
When you want the ingredient to be smaller in size, you should use the mince technique. Mincing creates small pieces, usually in garlic, onions, carrots, and other vegetables that are part of a dish that needs sautéing. Mincing helps cook them uniformly in less the time.
When you say chop, it means the cutting technique produces pieces of vegetables or meat that’s a bit larger, like chopping a celery, tomatoes, onions. The force is somewhat stronger than, say, mincing. If you want a dainty, matchstick size vegetable, the cutting technique used is julienne. The carrot, for example, is cut into a small block and then it is further cut into strips that are short and thin. Commonly, the julienne technique is ideal for stir frying vegetables in a wok. They cook faster and stay crisp that way.
Meanwhile, for larger cutting requirements, a cleaver is used specially when separating the chicken pieces, beef, pork, and turkey. Mincing can also be done with a cleaver though a considerable amount of skill and care must be practiced when using it for mincing. Because of its large, flat shape, the cleaver can be used to smash the garlic before it is peeled off its papery skin and then minced as required.
Knowing the basic principles in cutting techniques will help you decently employ the mise en place in your kitchen and help you prepare everything expeditiously and safely. Always be careful when handling knives in the kitchen. Also keep the knives sharp instead of dull because otherwise, you’ll end up slower in your preparation and with less than stellarly cut ingredients.
Wash your hands before and after cutting so that your fingers will not smell of the ingredient you sliced or cut and also to prevent the transfer of micro organisms especially if you handled poutry and meat.