Beautiful display of food begins with proper preparation. At the beginning of every food preparation is the cutting process. If you cut your food well, the serving will be beautiful.
If you need to cut your food well, you need to hold your knife properly and professionally. You may not be a chef but with a little guide, you can make beautiful slices, cubes or dices with your knife.
Our guide provides you will the ultimate guide to being your own chef. Proper knife handling is not only good for your food but also for your safety. If you do not catch your knife properly, you may end up with cuts.
To begin with, pick the right knife for food you want to cut. If your knife is dull, sharpen them. To sharpen your knives easily, use the right sharpening stone.
5 Tips to Hold a Chef Knife:
The best way to grip a knife is to hold its blade using your thumb and the index finger. The rest of the fingers should grip on the handle of the knife.
Note that the thumb grips the blade at the top on one side and the index finger on the other. The rest of the hand is wrapped around the handle.
To catch the knife like a seasoned chef, as shown above, follow these simple steps:
1. First, take your knife out of the knife bag and hold it with your dominant hand. Your dominant hand is your active hand that you use to write.
2. Pinch the blade near the handle with your thumb and your index finger. You can also add the middle finger if you are not comfortable using only the two fingers.
It is also easier to use the middle finger and the thumb if you are using a knife with a thinner blade.
3. Curl the remaining three fingers and the thumb around the knife’s handle.
4. Hold the knife firmly but loosely. If you feel you are clutching the knife too tight, relax and loosen the grip. Tension will make cutting tedious and nonuniform.
5. Hold the knife down on the cutting board away from you. This is the best position to start cutting and to keep you from hurting yourself.
Guiding the knife
Guiding the knife involves using the knuckles of the free non-dominant hand to guide the knife blade. Guiding also involves holding the food items firmly to prevent them from falling off the cutting board.
To guide the knife, tuck in the tips of your fingers so that you are guiding the knife with the knuckles the non-dominant hand.
Before you start cutting, press the knuckles of the index and the middle fingers of your guiding hand to the flat side of the blade.
The knuckle will remain in this position throughout the cutting. Guide the blade safely to avoid cutting your fingers. Guiding the blade along the length of the food as you easy your hand back.
However, the guiding process may change from one cutting technique to another depending on the foods you are cutting.
Cutting techniques Using Chef Knives
Professional chefs use many cutting techniques depending on their culinary skills and desires.
Every cutting technique depends on the type of food or the preparation process. In this guide, we have picked the three main cutting techniques that chefs use.
To begin cutting you need to know how to hold the foodstuff properly. We start with the famous “claw grip”.
1. The claw grip
The claw grip is a cutting technique where you hold the food item you are cutting with curled fingertips.
This technique is applied to the guiding hand or the non-dominant hand.
•You start by placing the food on the cutting board while holding it in place with your fingertips.
•Secondly, place your fingertips on top of the surface of the food.
•Curl your fingers slightly inwards so that your fingertips are hidden beneath your knuckles.
•The knuckles of the index and the middle finger should rest on the soft flat side of the knife’s blade.
Holding the food items, this way will keep your fingers from harm while holding the ingredients in a stable manner.
2. The Rolling Technique
The rolling technique is where you cut your food items finely in a rocking or rolling motion with the tip or point of the blade never leaving the cutting board.
To cut food item using this technique, follow these steps.
•Move your knife blade in a “rocking” or “rolling” motion starting at the tip and rolling to the heel.
•Repeat this motion as much as you want by lifting the heel of the knife off the cutting board.
•The tip of the knife remains on the cutting board throughout the repeat process.
•If you want to cut fruits and vegetables, you will roll the blade of the knife from heel to its tip instead of the tip to the heel.
•In this second method, the heel remains as close to the board as possible as you lift the tip of the knife to slice through the foodstuff.
•In order to cut perfect slices repeat this motion as many times as possible.
Mincing is a cutting technique that allows you to cut small pieces of foodstuff that are easy to sauté or fry in a pan.
Garlic and onions are examples of vegetables that are minced before frying.
• First, hold your knife as explained before with your dominant hand.
• Place the tip of the knife blade down on the cutting board.
• Position you vegetable/foodstuff beneath the sharp cutting edge of the blade.
• Place your index and middle fingers of your other hand, the non-dominant hand on the tip of the blade to press it firmly in place.
• Move the blade up and down in a rocking manner using your dominant hand to finely mince the ingredient.
• Gradually move from side to side along the length of the foodstuff.
• Repeat the mincing process until you achieve a finer mince.
Slicing is a common technique used in cutting large vegetables such as spinach, kales, basil among others.
The slicing technique allows you to cut the foodstuff in long strips that are usually used for garnishing.
These are our simple steps of slicing your vegetables beautifully:
• Bundle the leaves of the vegetables into a pile
• Roll the leaves together tightly into a tube
• Cut the rolled up vegetable in regular horizontal intervals to get beautiful uniform strips.
• You cannot repeat the process; make sure to cut the strips as neatly as possible.
If you are a beginner, it may be hard to hold the chef’s knife on right way on your first trial. However, you will need to practice to become the best in knife handling.
Refer to our guide; practice with common foodstuffs such as carrots, onions, or basil, and you will handle the chef’s knife like a professional in no time.