What do Julia Child, Gordon Ramsay, Matthew Kenney, and you all have in common — aside from a love of cooking? While the three chefs above have all made a household name for themselves, they all had to start somewhere in the kitchen — just like you. You have to run before you can walk, and if you want to be a top chef, that means you have to learn how to master basic culinary tools, such as the knife, before you can assemble masterful plant-based recipes.
Below, we’ve listed out the seven different knife cuts every home cook should know and learn to execute in order to become the best chef they can be — and we’ve even thrown in some recipes from our Food Monster App to help give you some vegan meal inspiration. Check out our guide below!
A Julienne is a French culinary knife cut in which you cut your vegetables (or whatever ingredient you’re julienning) into long, thin, uniform strips. To julienne, take your vegetable or fruit, and slice it thinly on the diagonal. Then, take your pieces, stack them on top of one another, and slice them thinly once more — vertical for long, uniform matchsticks, and horizontal for shorter sticks. Voila! You’ve julienned.
In the recipe for BBQ Pulled Veggie Sandwiches above, carrots have been julienned and added as a filler for this sandwich. You can also see how the jicama in this recipe for Raw Spicy Jicama Fries has been julienned, and then apply the technique again to make filling for these Hummus Collard Wraps.
There are several forms of dicing cuts you can execute, but essentially, dicing a vegetable means turning it from its natural form into a uniform cube. A standard dice is a vegetable cubed into 1/4 inches. Some recipes will call for larger dices, and that’s fine. If a recipe wants you to dice your vegetables into 1/8-inch pieces, you’re actually performing a brunoise cut (see below) — any smaller than that, you’re actually mincing (see below).
These Breakfast “Egg” Muffins call for diced red peppers to add some crunch and flavor, while this Red Lentil Tikka Masala calls for a small dice on the onions to help begin the cooking process. You can see the various diced ingredients in the Baked and Stuffed Avocados With Cashew Queso and Sausage pictured above.
Mincing is a knife technique that calls for you to first slice and dice your vegetables, and then dice them much more into very fine, uniform pieces. While sometimes recipes will call for a small dice, a mince is different — you want to make your veggies or ingredients that are supposed to be minced as fine and small as possible, so they can cook the way they’re intended — especially if you’re supposed to mince, rather than chop, a pungent ingredient, like garlic.
To mince garlic, trim the root end of the clove off, crush it down to remove its outer peal, and then use a rocking motion with your knife to continuously slice the garlic into a very fine mince.
This recipe for Asparagus With Minced Mushroom Sauce doesn’t actually use minced mushrooms — but it does use minced garlic! The Fruit Mince Cinnamon Rolls pictured above call for you to mince a melange of different fruits to stuff inside the cinnamon roll.
A brunoise (which is pronounced like brew-NWAHZ) cut is a lot like a diced cut, but it is smaller and more precise and measures 1/8 of an inch by 1/8 of an inch by 1/8 of an inch exactly.
To brunoise, simply julienne your veggies or fruits first, and then cut them up into 1/8-inch cubes. Brunoise typically appears in recipes as a garnish. This Mediterranean Couscous in Red Pepper Sauce calls for you to brunoise tomatoes, while the Spicy Thai Fusion Soup, pictured above, is garnished with brunoise ingredients.
A chiffonade is yet another French culinary cut, in which leafy greens or herbs are stacked, rolled, and then sliced into long, thin strips or ribbons. It is similar to a julienne, except julienne cuts are usually reserved for veggies and fruits, while chiffonading is usually used for your greens and fresh culinary herbs.
To chiffonade, simply gather as many leaves or herbs as you need, and stack them on top of one another. Then, roll them into a tube-like (or cigar-like) shape, and use your knife to cut your roll into as many thin ribbons as you need!
The recipe for Sweet Potato Spring Rolls With Anise-Scented Sage-Butter Sauce, pictured above, calls for you to chiffonade fresh sage, while this guide on How to Liven Up Raw Kale explains how chiffonading can transform the powerhouse green. Try chiffonading kale in this Kale and Golden Beet Salad.
We’d be remiss if we neglected to cruise over these basic cuts — after all, you can’t become a true culinary visionary if you don’t master the basics first.
A slice is defined as: “a thin, flat piece cut from something.” If a recipe calls for you to slice something, you know what to do. After all, what would these American Cheese Slices be without the knife slice? Just a hunk of cheese.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If a recipe calls for a rough chop of a vegetable, check to see if they call for a small or large chop, and then just go for it — try to keep your chopped veggies roughly the same size, and you’re golden. Chop away with this Chopped Salad With Apple Chipotle Vinaigrette.
So there you have it! An ultimate guide to knife cuts any home cook should master. Now check out out Guide to Knives for the Plant-Based Chef.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: IriGri/Shutterstock