One of my goals for 2008 is to improve my knife skills. I don’t own a food processor or a mandoline, and better knife skills would let me shave off at least ten to twenty minutes of prep time.
Some basic tips I’ve picked up so far, mostly from The New Making of a Cook (a Christmas present):
- Use a sharp knife. The sharper your knife, the less force you have to use. In the case of onions, a sharper knife means less juice released, therefore “the sharper your knife, the less you cry.”
- Hold your knife in your dominant hand. The tip of your thumb should touch where blade meets the handle. Some recommend holding the blade between your thumb and your index finger.
- Don’t rest your index finger on top of the blade.
- Cut a flat surface on round vegetables so they lie flat on the cutting board.
- As you slice, the knife tip should not leave the board.
- Your other, “guiding” hand rests on the vegetable, with fingers rounded and tips curled in. Your thumb & little finger should rest behind the other fingers.
That’s all I got. Luckily, three other sites have great free video and/or photo tutorials:
- The Food Network has a surprisingly good batch of knife skills videos (demonstrated cuts include julienne, brunoise, & mince). Requires Windows Media Player.
- Marsha Lynch has an excellent, photo-heavy tutorial over at the eGullet forums.
- Finally, Chow.com also has a nice set of videos covering basic knife skills including seven standard cuts.
Jessica D says
One of my new year’s goals is to 1)get a mandoline or 2)learn how to sharpen and finally learn how to use my knives like a pro!
I couldn’t believe my luck as I was reading your blog on my Google Reader this a.m.
Thank you so much! :oD
Oh, thank goodness! I was worried this post was a bit tangential to the blog–glad to see I’m not the only one who’s interested!
I can always advise on knife skills. Just ignore my Frankenstein Fingers.