What’s the difference between dicing and chopping? Do you know how to handle baton cutting, batonnet cuts, and julienne cuts? You need to know the basic cuts to start cooking, but it takes several different knife cuts to truly master cooking skills. Learning these classic skills with knives elevates your cooking game to the point where you can determine a brunoise cut size without thinking about it and make wonderful dishes for yourself and others to savor and enjoy.
ESSENTIAL TYPES OF KNIFE CUTS
Buying the Executive Japanese Damascus Steel Knife Set you’ve had your eye on can help equip your kitchen, but these knives are only useful when you have the technique and the tools. Start expanding your skills with these classic knife cuts anyone who cooks should learn and master.
DICING VS. CHOPPING
A common point of confusion among people trying to get better at cooking is what makes dicing different from simply chopping. Some recipes call for chopping, and that’s when you get chunks of similar sizes but not the same shape. Dicing is about exact cuts for uniform pieces, often done in cubes. Small, medium, and large dices are, respectively, cubes measuring 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, and 3/4 inch on each side.
This cut goes by other names, including allumette or matchstick cuts. Use this knife cut to make long, slender pieces of vegetables by first slicing them into planks and then stacking them to cut several planks into thin strips. This technique is frequently used for stir-fries, salads, and slaw.
The brunoise cut is a lot like a really small dice, and it’s similar to mincing but involves a lot more precision. Start by making a julienne shape and cutting the pieces into 1/8-inch cubes. You’ll often use this cut for garnishes and aromatic soups, stocks, or stews. Knife quality is crucial for precision cutting, and a Gourmet Acacia Cutting Board helps you control your cuts.
This cut is easier to learn after you master the julienne cut, given the similarities in technique. Here, you’ll start making rectangular pieces around 3 inches in length and 1/4 inch in thickness. Your goal is to create small sticks of uniform shape and size. You can use this cut for stir-fries, French fries, and veggie platters where presentation matters.
Precision matters the least with this cut; minced pieces can be irregular so long as the cuts are fine. You’ll start with chopping and slicing motions for rough initial cutting before gathering everything into a pile. Use your free hand to hold the knife tip steady while making a rocking motion for chopping across the pile. Common applications include aromatics, herbs, garlic, or any ingredients you need to distribute flavor throughout a dish. The Kanpeki 4-piece VG10 Damascus Chef Knife Set is a good set for all your mincing needs.
Use this cut for fresh herbs and vegetable leaves. For instance, you might choose this technique anytime you are using basil. Stack the leaves, roll them, and make perpendicular slices for thin strips. Making dainty little ribbons helps make the most of leafy greens and aromatic herbs for savory cooking. The word’s literal translation means “rag,” but most culinary enthusiasts like the sound of “ribbons” better.
If you’re a professional cook, you must master as many different cuts as possible. Knowing the various types of cuts is a great first step toward improving your skills for cooking at home, too. In either case, the right techniques and tools let you prepare food that tastes and looks terrific.