Everyone can agree, from home cooks to professional chefs, that learning the different types of cuts and knowing basic knife skills are essential to the art of cooking. Knife cutting techniques are sometimes overlooked as something only professional chefs need to learn, but it’s also essential for amateur cooks to learn to improve their cooking techniques, efficiency in the kitchen, and dish presentation.
Knowing your basic knife techniques goes a long way in helping you out in your kitchen. The main objectives of learning the different types of cuts are creating uniformity in the size and shape for your ingredients, be it meat, vegetables, etc. Uniformity will allow your ingredients to be cooked evenly and in a shorter amount of time. Not to mention, your dish having its ingredients with even cuts will create an aesthetically pleasing presentation. Additionally, knowing the different types of cuts will significantly help in envisioning and preparing for your dish.
There are many types of cuts around the world. Learning these cuts are important as they can also alter the taste of the dish. Here, we will discuss the essential ones that you need to learn to prepare your favorite dishes and recipes that you see in Panlasang Pinoy Recipes.
But before we get to cutting our ingredients to prepare our favorite dish, it is important to have the proper tools. Make sure that you have a proper sharp chef knife that’s for perfect use in the kitchen and a chopping board. Ideally, wooden chopping boards are used for cutting meat and plastic ones are used for cutting vegetables. Proper equipment does matter in the kitchen because it can significantly help and give you ease in the cooking process.
Now that we have our proper equipment, let’s now discuss the different types of cuts that you need to learn.
Basic Cutting Technique
First, to properly cut your food with a knife, you need to put your index and thumb on either side at the very back of the knife and wrap the rest of your fingers on the handle to create a confident grip. This is the proper way to hold your knife so it doesn’t slip and cause an accident.
With your other hand, you need to create a claw to hold the ingredient in place and touch the side of your knife to your knuckles. This will help guide your knife where to cut your food and ensures that you don’t cut your fingers in the process.
Also, make sure to use a wave motion with your wrist with a forward push to your knife to chop properly instead of forcing the knife down to cut your food. This wave motion makes it more efficient to cut your ingredient.
This method applies to the other kinds of cuts we’re going to discuss next.
Let’s start with the very basic chop. As a cutting technique, this is a more informal one that is usually what first-time cooks use. The ingredient is cut into small, irregular sized pieces but should stay within the size of three-quarters of an inch and one quarter if you want a finer cut. Chopping may be slow going at first but with enough practice, you’ll get the hang of it and realize that you’re already chopping with speed.
Onions, potatoes, and carrots are the most common type of ingredients to chop.
In French, batonnet means “little sticks” which is exactly what we want our ingredients to turn out with this cut. Ingredients cut into batonnets are turned into thick, rectangle sticks that are meant to be served in dishes of large portions. With the batonnet cut, there is more waste left from the ingredient you cut. To get the perfect batonnet cut, first remove both ends of the ingredient you’re cutting and then cut it into portions, 2 inches long. Cut the sides of each portion to create a rectangle shape. Next, cut the pieces into ¼ inch slabs and lastly, you need to cut the slabs lengthwise into ¼ inch strips. Here is the standard methods for batonnet cut: ¼ in x ¼ in x 2 in (6mm x 6mm x 6cm).
The batonnet cut is commonly used to cut vegetables for appetizers and in French dishes, especially crudites. Try to recreate this Paella Valencia Recipe that requires you to batonnet its ingredient as well use other types of cuts.
Julienne in French means matchsticks but it’s also known as shoestrings. This cut involves turning the ingredients into long and very thin strips. You can make it easier for yourself by taking your batonnet cuts and cutting them further lengthwise into 4 equal square strips and then cut them again into 2 crosswise cuts. And there you go, julienne cut. The standard measure of julienne cut is 1/8 x 1/8 x 1-2 inches (3 mm x 3 mm x 3 to 5 cm).
Julienne is usually used on vegetables, especially salads and stir-fried noodles, but can sometimes work on meat and fish. Try to recreate this Pancit Canton Recipe to practice your julienning.
This is a form of julienne wherein you need to cut your julienne strips further into 4 equal sticks lengthwise. Its standard measurement is 1/16 in x 1/16 in x 2 in (1.5mm
x 1.5 mm x 5cm). Fine Julienne is usually used in salads and to garnish dishes. Try to recreate this Gigantic Futomaki Recipe that you need to a julienne couple of ingredients for garnish.
Dicing is just like chopping except you need to make your cuts uniform in size and shape to achieve the perfect dice cut. The dice cut got its name because you need to cut the ingredients into cube or die shapes. To achieve this, you first need to discard the ends of your ingredients. Next, cut your ingredient into strips and then gather the strips in a bunch to cut or dice them from one end to another, creating uniform little cubes of food.
Now there are multiple kinds of dice cuts and it all depends on the size you want your ingredients to be. We’ll discuss these kinds of dice cuts below.
Carré or Large Dice
As what the name suggests, Carre or large dice is the largest dice cut you can make out of your ingredients. To achieve this cut, first cut your ingredients ends off and then cut its sides to form a rectangular shape. Next, cut it into slabs that measure about ¾ inch in thickness. Then cut the slabs lengthwise to make it into sticks measuring ¾ inch x ¾ inch in both depth and width. Lastly, cut the sticks to turn it into cubes. This cut is noticeably square and has a standard measurement of ¾ inch x ¾ inch x ¾ inch.
Large Dice is relatively quick to make and gives a professional look to your dish, it is used on potatoes, carrots, and even meats. It can be used for dishes that are slow to cook and stews. Try to recreate this Filipino Pork Stew Recipe called Menudo. It requires a lot of large dice for you to work on.
Parmentier or Medium Dice
The Medium Dice is the most common dice cut used as its a safe medium to use when the recipe doesn’t specify what dice size you need to create. You can create the medium dice by just following the steps on the batonnet cut and adding the extra step of slicing the batonnet to create cubes. And there you go, you’ve produced a medium dice. It’s usually measured in the standard of ¼ inch x ¼ inch x ¼ inch (6mm x 6mm x 6mm).
Medium dice are used in a variety of different dishes. Here is a recipe of Waldorf Salad you can try to recreate using medium dice cuts.
Macedoine or Small Dice
You can achieve this cut by first following the steps to create julienne. Once you have julienne, you can just cut your ingredient into cubes with 3mm thickness to achieve the small dice cut. The standard measurements for small dice are ⅛ inch x ⅛ inch x ⅛ inch (3mm x 3mm x 3mm). This cut is usually used to mix in with ground meat to add more flavor to the dish.
Try to recreate this Spicy Shrimp Poppers and Duo of Baked Mussels Recipe where you have to small dice the ingredients.
Brunoise Dice is the smallest possible cut of dice there is. You can achieve this cut by first making fine julienne, bunching them up in your hand and cutting it into evenly shaped cubes. Although, it can be hard to master because of its small size. It has a standard measurement of 1/16 in x 1/16 in x 1/16 in (2mm x 2mm x 2mm). Brunoise Dice is great for soups and used as garnishes. Try to recreate this Shrimp Pasta Salad Recipe where you need to brunoise dice celery to serve as garnish.
And last but certainly not the least: mince! In mincing your food, you want a cut that’s even smaller than brunoise dice, creating an almost paste-like texture to your ingredient. You can mince mostly everything. The most common thing to mince is fresh herbs, garlic, and ginger as they release their flavors through their oils and liquids that help the flavor distribute evenly into your dish. Try this Pork and Shrimp Siomai Recipe to practice your mincing.
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