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prep tips and tricks

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

There are sooo many threads already about what knife to buy and how to sharpen.  But we never talk about the important stuff like actually using your knives!  If I talk to culinary students starting to work for real and needing to work faster or home cooks, one thing they always wish they were better at is using their knife.

 

In this thread I want to discuss any tips and tricks you have as far as actual cutting techniques to practice or to master

 

I'll kick it off with this: chinese style julienne 

 

 

It's not what they teach you in culinary school - to make the neat little planks and then stack them in neat little piles and spend a lot of effort keeping it together with your left hand as you cut.

 

SImply cut as many planks as you want and lay them all out just overlapping each other.  this is very easy with a cleaver because you just stand them up and tip them over with your cleaver and even fan them out with your cleaver. So what's the benefit?

1) It's never higher than two deep so it's very easy to keep it together.

2) You can do this basically the length of your cutting board.  You never stop and stack the next 3 planks together.  You can get all of it at once!

3) It's particularly good for wet ingredients that slide around ex tofu

4) It's easier to do thin strips

 

 

From there if you want to mince it, just rotate it and cut again

 

This works for bell pepper, tofu, etc.  in any size of dice.

 

If you have any tips or tricks whether it is basic like this or the fastest way to cut some specific fruits or vegetables the please post here! 

post #2 of 28
Millions, are you cutting left to right along the planks?
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
Right to left, always keeping pressure pushing down to keep it tight
post #4 of 28

I usually have the planks laying  the other way  as they come off my knife and cut right to left. I'm right handed of course. 

 

If I need a higher regularity in the cut, I get that better with the french technique. But it's slower and more hassle. The length of the julienne varies a bit with this technique. I get a little sliding some too so my width isn't as precise. MK has a little width variation too, but not as much as I get. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
If you are going to mince or dice pr if it is for soup, then it doesnt matter so much. If you are in fine dining and want exactly uniform pieces, do it the slower french way
post #6 of 28

This picture is 2 years old. I'd like to think I've improved some over that time.

 

The carrots at the top of this image were cut French style. The carrots in the lower part were cut in the asian technique under discussion.

 

 

I like to use this technique rather than grating carrots as well. It's a bit slower than grating, but I like the imporoved texture and appearance it offers for things like slaws and so on. 

 

I went on to create a rice length julienne in this case to use in a long grain fried rice (basmati). Again the upper collection is in French technique. The lower is Asian technique. 

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #7 of 28

I like this thread. Look forward to seeing more. How about this

 

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 

How about this one:

 

Afer you wash and dry your scallions, put the rubber band back on.  It keeps them all facing the same way instead of rotating around.  Just slide it down an inch or two at a time as you go

 

 

Anyone else do this or just me

post #9 of 28

I've seen that one before. I'don't find this one that useful for me. Maybe I grip the scallion tighter or something?  It's kind of like clipping chives with scissors. More hassle for my ability than it's worth. Yet Jacques Pepin did it frequently for garnishing  a dish. Maybe it 's better for garnishing which I've not really tried. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

I find it helpful if i want to cut it real thin

post #11 of 28
If this is OT my apologies, but how do you all keep the veg from sticking to your knife and messying up your stacks/piles? I've tried a moistened knife from a wet towel on my board which helps a little but still seems like it could be improved.

Thanks,
Mr. G
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 

A lot of it is the geometry of your knife.  If it is very thin, stuff will stick.  If it is fatter at the spine, thin at the edge and convexed, food is more likely to fall off.

 

One trick you can do is try a pull cut, instead of a push cut or chop.  Pull the knife towards you as it is cutting down.  The product is more likely to stay in place.  With wet things like potato, pretty much it will stick somewhat always. 

 

You should have a plan for board management.  Where uncut product goes, where cut product goes, if/when you need to clear the board.  

post #13 of 28
Thanks, @MillionsKnives. My knife is a Ghessin Uraku gyuto, and it isn't incredibly thin and is fatter at the spine. Probably just my technique. I will try pull cuts - thanks for that tip! And yes, my board is just a bit small but I try to keep it organized. Having never worked in this industry and not having many peers interested in cooking, I am learning a lot from this forum and everywhere else I can research so thanks for your generosity.

Mr. G
post #14 of 28

Sticking isn't a major issue. Cutting is mostly about each cut setting up the next cut you will make. Only items you have already cut will be sticking to the blade. So after you have made your pass through the line of shingled items, you clean off the blade, arranging the clinging bits on the line or stack for the next pass of cut. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #15 of 28
Good to know - thanks @phatch! I have wondered but wasn't sure if it was proper technique to need to manually assemble your product after a pass of cutting.
post #16 of 28
I feel like my eyes almost started crying just from seeing that picture with all the onions... O.O

This is a great thread. Thanks for sharing some of your techniques and tips!
post #17 of 28

You can also make it easier to keep your stacks in place with a rocking motion to your slice.  Start with the tip up, pull cut, and as the blade progresses thru you bring the tip down so that the tip finishes the cut.  You will see sashimi cut sort of like this, but their purpose is to keep the body of the edge from hitting the board and loosing its super-keeness prematurely.

 

 

 

 

Rick

post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

I like this thread. Look forward to seeing more. How about this

 

 

That! = This! Or a raise... :beer:

 

post #19 of 28

Yeah, Looks resourceful tips!!!! Thanks for sharing here.:thumb:

post #20 of 28

Do you have any special tips for the maintenance of the knifes? For instance, I heard is not good to put them in the dishwasher...

post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NewOrleansCookJ View Post

That! = This! Or a raise... drinkbeer.gif



Is that a cross between a slap chop and a duck press?
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chocostudent View Post

Do you have any special tips for the maintenance of the knifes? For instance, I heard is not good to put them in the dishwasher...

Hand wash, hand dry, oil wooden handles. If you need more info than that, start a new thread. This thread is about cutting.
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MillionsKnives View Post


Is that a cross between a slap chop and a duck press?
  It's a vegetable dicer. You put a plank of veg on a interchangeable razor blade grid and punch it through. I almost always prefer cutting veg by hand to keep good muscle memory, however this thing is good when you have to do bulk work, or on the fly mise en place for a line. This plus a tomato slicer leaves you only having to top and tail, and peel the onions, I rarely resort to that however as a tomato slicers blades are more delicate and easy to bend.

This combo can get you a sacks worth of perfectly uniform diced onions in mmm, lets say 30 minutes tops... :chef:

post #24 of 28

What happened to this thread?

 

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

post #25 of 28

I've wanted to do a video, just haven't gotten around to it.  This would include techniques for cutting in-hand, rather than cutting hand.

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by chocostudent View Post
 

Do you have any special tips for the maintenance of the knifes? For instance, I heard is not good to put them in the dishwasher...

 

Greatly depends on your knives.  Some may warrant the dishwasher, maybe even the garbage disposal.  The rest you may care for otherwise.

post #27 of 28

Here's a stupid but effective tip: wet the knife frequently while cutting. Water acts as a lubricant and helps the cut.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ordo View Post
 

Here's a stupid but effective tip: wet the knife frequently while cutting. Water acts as a lubricant and helps the cut.

Wow I wasn't aware of that. Noted! :D

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