How to Cut Vegetables Guide
Vegetable Cutting Guide by Vegetable Type
How to cut veggies and use a chef knife
Below you will find basic techniques for cutting common vegetables. There are no fancy knife skills to show off here, but rather simple basic ways to prepare onions, carrots, potatoes and more for your everyday cooking needs.
Sharp chef’s knife
Cutting Vegetables Introduction
Before you start cutting anything, let’s talk about safety. Knives are supposed to be sharp. The sharper, the better. Dull knives cause more accidents than sharp knives because of the extra effort needed to execute a cut. In my years as a prep cook, line cook and chef, I have cut myself more times than I can count, as have all kitchen workers. But I cannot remember a single cut that occurred while I was focused and paying attention. Invariably, accidents happen when you are in a hurry, distracted or trying to use a knife in a way it’s not supposed to be used (prying apart frozen burger patties, for example) So, have a way to sharpen your knives, and be focused while using them. Secondly, keep your fingertips tucked away. Try to get in the habit of holding the food you’re cutting with your fingertips pointed toward your palm, resting the side of the knife on your knuckles as you move it back and forth, up and down. Thirdly, hold the knife properly. A balanced chef knife is designed to be held by pinching the sides of the blade right in front of the handle with your thumb and forefinger. Your 3 other fingers (pinky, ring and middle) wrap under the handle. Give it a try, it should feel very balanced and like you have total control.
Carrot Cutting Guide
Peel the carrots, or simply wash well. I actually rinse and scrub with a clean brillo pad! You decide.
For rounds, simply cross cut at the desired thickness. Hold the tip of your knife on the cutting board and use the heel of the blade to come down onto the carrot. You get really good leverage this way, and the heel of a kitchen knife is stronger and usually sharper than the tip.
For oblong slices, cut at an angle.
For diced, cut the carrot in quarters length-wise (like carrot sticks) than cross-cut at the desires thickness.
Onion Cutting Guide
First, any which way you end up cutting it, you need to cut off the roots end, the top, and peel down to a clean layer.
Once peeled and topped, cut the onion in half, stem-to,root. (unless you want burger rings, then cross-cut whole onions).
To cut feathered onions (strips).
Place the halved onion flat side down with the root end facing you.
Make slices in a wagon wheel pattern, always aiming toward the hub center. Rotate your way up to a vertical cut straight down, then flip the vertical edge down to the board and continue.
To dice, I have developed a habit quite contrary to the teaching in culinary school and all uptight sous chefs who have tried to dictate the perfect onion particle.
I like to start with the halved onion and cross cut to make slices of ½ rings. I then lay these slices on their side, and use the wagon wheel pattern described above to make my way around the slices, ending up with uniform sized dices.
Celery Cutting Guide
Break the stalks away from the bunch, wash thoroughly
Trim the ends so that they are fresh and clean
If you want smaller dices, cut the stalks length-wise first
Stack the trimmed stocks together and cross-cut at your desired size.
Using a swooping motion is usually easier to control and works better than a full-blown chop.
Red potatoes don’t usually get peeled unless you want to. The skins are thin and don’t cause any problems.
To dice, cut the potatoes in half and place on the cutting board in the turtle position.
Slice 2 or 3 times length-wise, then turn the potato to cross-cut at the desired size.
Place cut potatoes in a bowl of water to hold for use. They will turn brown very quickly if exposed to the air.
Russets usually get peeled, so use a paring knife or a potato peeler to peel, then rinse.
Cut in half to make turtle shapes.
With the flat side down on the cutting board, cut into slabs.
Turn the slabs on their side and cut into strips (think french fries).
If you want diced, rotate the strips to make cross-cuts at the desired thickness.
Place cut potatoes in a bowl of water to hold for use. They will turn brown very quickly if exposed to the air, especially russets.
Mushroom Cutting Guide
Mushrooms are fun to slice, you can build up your speed and knife skills easiest with mushrooms. White mushrooms are the easiest to simply chop with one downward tap of the knife, but brown and portobellos can be a little stubborn and need more of a slicing motion.
First, cut all mushrooms in half stem-to-top, and arrange the halves in neat little rows on your cutting board… or just pile them up in a random mess, it’s up to you.
To slice, place the halved mushroom flat side down, and slice in an up-and-down motion using the front 25% of the chef knife (tip) to slice. Keep the knife against your knuckles as you move the knife up and down, gradually moving your knuckles back as you work your way through the mushroom.
How to Mince Parsley
Ok, so parsley is technically an herb, I don’t think it is a vegetable. But we need to chop it quite often, so here you go.
Pick leaves off of the stalks, trying to avoid stems in the final chop pile.
Once the leaves are picked, pile them up on the cutting board and try hold them together for the first pass with the knife.
With your off hand, hold your knife down on the top at the tip, and use the tip on the board as a lever to move your knife up and down, using the center of the blade as you chop.
Make multiple passes, brushing the pile back to the center each time and sometimes turning the pile over with the blade. Keep going until the herbs are as fine as you like.