Knife skills are something that every home chef could benefit from. Sometimes the thing that takes a dish from good to great is simply the presentation! I’m going to show you some tricks of the trade and help you to easily take your dishes to the next level. We’ll be working with an onion, an apple, a squash, and an orange! Before we begin, make sure you are using a sharp knife. Dull knives are actually more dangerous than a sharp knife because of the amount of pressure that is needed in order to use a dull knife! This can cause more frequent and more severe accidents. So be safe, use a sharp knife!
Alright, now from this point forward I want you to trust yourself and trust your knife!
I used a standard issue chef’s knife for everything. Nothing fancy, this is just a good quality knife!
When it comes to knives, one of the most important things is to hold it at the hilt (where the blade meets the handle). You’re going to want to get a good grip without getting white knuckles. Firm but not the grip of death!
Another important part of correct knife holding involves your other hand. When chopping, you want to curve your fingers inward and rest the middle of your fingers on the blade. Make sure that your fingers are curving inward, or else you risk cutting the tips of your fingers off!
When you’re not doing a close dice, chop or slice, your hand should be resting on your cutting board like so:
Let’s start with the onion. First, we dice! Slice the onion in half through the end bulb, like so. Remove any unwanted layers, but keep the bulb in tact.
Next, you’ll slice the onion perpendicular to the bulb without slicing all the way through the onion near the top portion. You should be left with an onion fan of sorts.
You’ll also want to slice the onion once in half parallel to the cutting board. Again, do not cut all the way through!
Now rotate the onion and chop perpendicular to your first slices. You will be left with the perfect diced onion!
Next is the julienne cut–also known as the french or straw cut. This is good for salads, soups, caramelizing, etc. This time, the first thing you’ll want to do is cut off the bulb at the end. Cut far enough in so that your onion slices will be a uniform length.
And you’re done!
*IMPORTANT* In between every use you should wipe down your knife with a clean rag. You always want to work with a nice, clean knife. Additionally, when you’re done using your knife it should be hand washed and put away. Never put a knife in the dishwasher as it will cause the blade to rust and deteriorate, the handle to break down, and will eventually ruin your knife.
Next I’m going to show you how to cut a butternut squash! These can be a pain to cut if you don’t do it the right way. But, once you know how to do it they are a quick and delicious addition to soups, salads, or any dish!
For easier handling, we’re going to start off by cutting the squash in half. The best way to do this is to make sure you’ve got a sharp knife and simply break the flesh of the squash with the tip of it. Then, work your knife back and forth with a good amount of pressure until you make it all the way through.
Next, we’re going to get rid of all the skin. Start from the top and make a downward cut along the squash. Rotate the squash and repeat until all the skin is removed.
After you have your squash completely removed of the skin, trim off the curved edge of one side of the squash. You will be left with a flat surface. Now cut a few slices off at your desired thickness, mine were about 1/2 inch thick.
Place a couple slices on top of each other, flat on the cutting board. We’re now going to do what chef’s call “squaring off.” You don’t have to do this, but it makes a more uniform dice and a prettier presentation!
To square off, simply trim off any edges that aren’t straight. You will be left with a “square,” although with a squash it’s more like a rectangle.
Now we slice!
*TIP ALERT* To keep your squash stable while you’re slicing and dicing, place your pointer finger over the knife so that it rests on the squash and holds it in place while you slide your knife through the squash.
Begin the slice
Place finger over the knife to hold the squash down
Slide your knife through while your fingers are in place. Repeat!
Now for the dice we’re going to turn our sticks the other way and do the same thing. For a good, square dice you’ll want to chop at the same thickness of your sticks!
Okay, now for the apple. I’m going to show you how a professional would slice an apple. First, cut your apple in half through the core.
When slicing an apple, I like to hold my knife a little more on the blade than I would usually. I also hold it at a higher angle than normal (maybe a 60° angle). I begin the slice and then drag the knife through the apple, never leaving the board with my knife.
The reason it is so important to slice and drag instead of chop, is because when chopping an apple the slice gets stuck to the blade. Like this:
When I use the slice and drag technique, the slice simply falls to its side. Like so:
It the end I am left with some BEAUTIFUL slices. Perfect for salads, desserts, garnish, or whatever else you might use them for!
Next up I’m going to grab an orange. First, I cut off the ends and peel the orange using my chef’s knife.
Once I have the orange peel completely off (including all of the white pith). I switch to my pairing knife to do a cut called a supreme! If you’re not familiar with this, basically what we’re going to make this orange look like is like those little bare slices of fruit in a can of Mandarin oranges!
For this cut, I’m going to cut between the little membrane segments and only get the flesh of the orange.
This can be done with any citrus fruit and can be used in a variety of ways, or just for a fancy snack.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to reach out with any questions.
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