Jul 24, 2012
Slice, Dice, and Everything Nice
Contributed by Chef Souk
Chop the herbs. Mince the garlic. Dice the tomato. Slice the onion. Aren’t these all just fancy ways of saying “cut the ingredients into pieces?” Technically they are all ways to cut things, but there are several important differences we’ll discuss.
Chopping is a rough way of cutting things up. For instance, if it says “chop the garlic” you would run your knife over it several times but it wouldn’t matter if the garlic was mashed into tiny pieces. Same for herbs. If you’re chopping basil the pieces can be larger, especially if the recipe would call for a rough chop. That just means rough ‘em up a little, but don’t blow them to pieces.
Mincing takes chopping a step further. If you are making a salad dressing and it calls for minced garlic, cut that garlic as finely as possible. You don’t want any pieces of garlic that someone could chomp down on. Mincing essentially means to cut something into the smallest pieces possible. Think of this way – if you put your garlic in a food processor and turned it on you’d have something close to garlic paste. That, in essence, is what mincing is.
Dicing is usually a fancy way of cubing things. For instance, dicing a pineapple would mean to cut it up into small chunks. You eat diced tomato in salads and salsa. If something is diced you want to taste the chunks unlike when something is minced and you essentially want the flavor without the texture.
Last but not least, slicing. Pretty straight forward. You can slice things thick or thin but generally if you were slicing an onion it might be to make onion rings, or if you were slicing tomatoes it would be to put them on sandwiches. You can also buy a mandolin which will do the slicing for you if you are uncomfortable using sharp knives.
With all of the above use a good, sharp knife and be careful! I’ve sliced my finger more than once on a sharp blade and it’s not pretty.
For a great source for knife skill demos, check out www.CHOW.com (the link should take you to knife skills).
No affiliation with www.CHOW.com, just love their quick, easy demos!
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