Recipes
Follow This Guide To Learn Knife Skills Like A Pro Chef
Use these tips to chop things faster and more safely.
Ryan Aliapoulios
07.12.18

Aside from knowing how different ingredients and seasonings go together, part of being a good chef is basic technical skills as well. As anyone who has had an accident while cutting things during prep work knows, careful knife skills are absolutely crucial to success in the kitchen. Although most of us end up just picking these up as we go along, there is actually a set of professional skills related to knife-handling that anyone can learn. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do today.

With no further ado, here are the essential tips to handling a kitchen knife like a pro.

Preparation

1. Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure that your cutting board is secure in the area that you’re cutting. Ideally, use a heavier cutting board and put a dampened paper towel underneath it to hold it in place.

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2. After that, make sure that you have a good grip on your knife! Putting your finger on top of the non-sharp part of the blade, holding too far back or holding too loosely will all make the process more difficult (and more dangerous). Instead, pinch the back of the knife between your forefinger and thumb and wrap your hand around the handle.

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Chopping

1. Although it may be tempting to lay your hand flat down on the cutting board by your knife while you’re cutting, this is a very common mistake! Leaving your fingers flat like that leaves them exposed to cuts from your other hand. Instead, use the “claw” technique: make your hand in a claw shape with your fingertips tucked back and your knuckles out. This way, the top of the knife can rest against your knuckles while your fingers stay safe.

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2. Similarly, chopping is much less of an up-and-down motion as some of us may think. Instead, it’s much more of a forward rocking motion. Use your wrist to guide the blade to slice whatever you’re cutting from tip to the back of the blade. If it helps, you can think of the front quarter of the knife not moving very far from the cutting board at all times.

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Techniques

Now that you can handle the blade itself, it’s time to move on to the more specific (and fun) stuff. Here we go:

Dicing

1. This is probably the most common of the knife techniques, used often with onions. In this case, you would cut an onion in half through the root and peel it first.

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2. Next, put the cut side of the onion down and carefully make a few horizontal cuts into the onion half towards the root.

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3. After that, make some vertical cuts into it towards the root as well, though not all the way through. Once that’s done, turn the onion 90 degrees, use your “claw” hand on top of the onion to guide the knife and slice it up slowly into a fine dice. Easy!

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Chiffonade

1. This one is a little less common but still super helpful with herbs like basil, for example. First, take your herb leaves and stack them in a small pile. Slowly and carefully roll them up from the top down into a cigar shape, keeping your finger on top to keep it pinned together.

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2. Holding the leaves in place, twist the “cigar” and use firm pressure to slice really thinly through the entire thing until it’s all chopped. At the end, your herbs will be in perfectly pretty little ribbons.

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Julienning

1. The julienne cut is often used with carrots and can also come in handy. To begin, get out a carrot and chop it into two inch segments, working with one at a time.

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2. To begin, slice a little bit off of one side of the chunk to create a flat base and let the carrot rest on that side. With that done, cut eighth-inch slices long-ways across the carrot all the way across.

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3. Next, stack up those sliced carrots up again so that they’re flat on the cutting board and repeat the process again—feel free to separate the stacks if it’s easier to handle. At the end, you should beautifully julienned carrot slices.

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By Ryan Aliapoulios
hi@sbly.com
Ryan Aliapoulios is a contributing writer at Shareably based out of Los Angeles. Find him on Twitter @rollyops.
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