Have you ever watched a chef chop vegetables on a cooking show? The motions are smooth and seem effortless almost as if the knife is an extension of his hands, which in a way it is. The only secret behind their proficiency is practice. The technique is something that anyone can and should learn to effectively and efficiently chop vegetables at home. Here are the only 9 steps (and tips) you need, to learn how to chop like the pros.
- Cutting Board
Make sure that you have a clean cutting surface by choosing a cutting board to chop your vegetables on. Never use a cutting board that has previously been in contact with raw meats without a thorough cleaning between uses.
- Choose The Correct Knife
For chopping you will most likely want to use a large chef’s knife, but there are a few others that can be used in a pinch. If you’re confused about which knives to use in different situations, I urge you to check out this article to learn more about the different types of knives and how they’re used.
- How To Hold Your Knife
Think of your knife as your best friend in the kitchen. It’ll be there for you as long as you’re there for it. With your dominant hand you’ll want to wrap your fingers around the handle firmly, keeping your index finder atop the blade. This allows better control of the blade during chopping.
- Tip Down and Roll Through
Keep the tip of the blade down and against the cutting board at all times. This creates stability and reduces the risk of the blade slipping mid chop. The tip of the blade will glide along the cutting board as you slide the knife both down and forward all in one smooth motion, but the tip of the blade should never leave the surface of the cutting board. The blade should almost as if it’s rolling through the vegetable.
- Fingers In
While your dominant hand is holding the knife your subordinate hand will need to hold the vegetable in place. While it may seem more natural to hold the vegetable with your fingertips, you want to avoid this position the best that you can. When you hold the vegetable with your fingertips you are actually more likely to slice into your finger.
- Cut In Half
When you’re chopping a vegetable you want to make sure that at least one surface of the vegetable is flat. To ensure this, first you want to cut the vegetable in half lengthwise. Keep in mind that anytime your knife is cutting through anything, you’ll want the tip of that blade to stay in contact with the cutting board. Once the vegetable has been sliced through lengthwise you will notice that now each half has a flat sided surface that will act as a stabilizer during the rest of the chopping process.
- Cut In Strips
Put your flat edge down against the cutting board and cut your vegetable into fairly narrow strips. Use the same cutting motion as before. The strips do not have to be perfectly even but the closer that you can get, the more even your finished product will be. If uniform is important to you, or the dish that you are preparing, you’ll want to take a little extra time here to be precise.
- Chop Across
You’re finally here. The fun part. It’s time to chop your vegetable slices widthwise. This is where things get dicey. Remember your subordinate hand’s positioning is crucial, especially now. You don’t want the tips of your finger to come between the blade and your cutting board. This is also where that rolling chop motion you learned in step four will be the most helpful as the chopping can now go much more quickly. Keeping your fingers in tight and the tip of your blade on the cutting board slowly roll the blade down over your vegetable at fairly even increments. Again if having the chopped pieces be uniform is important to the recipe or to your personal preference you’ll want to take extra time in this step. Don’t worry about going quickly, or making your chopping perfectly even, both of those skills will come with practice in time.
Now that one half of your vegetable is properly chopped, it’s time to move on to the next half. Follow steps seven and eight to chop the rest of your vegetable, while keeping in mind the tips you learned in steps 3 to 5. The more you practice, the better and more efficient you will become in your chopping skills, and maybe someday you’ll be as good as the pros.
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