Better cutting with the right equipment and techniques
Cutting is one of the most important tasks when it comes to preparing food. Sharp knives, a secure surface and the right techniques are absolutely essential.
Most foods require cutting before eating. What’s more, certain foods develop a much stronger flavour depending on how they are cut – such as chopped herbs, diced onion and finely sliced vegetables. With sharp knives, suitable surfaces and the right techniques, cutting can be just as enjoyable as seasoning, tasting and other aspects of cooking. When cutting, it is important to follow a few health and safety rules and to be aware of basic kitchen hygiene. This not only helps to avoid injury, but also ensures the best possible conditions for your food.
Knives must be sharp and chopping boards slip-proof. It’s a good idea to invest in high-quality knives and to get them professionally sharpened on a regular basis. Plastic or wooden boards are best for chopping, while glass, marble and steel are not recommended as they will quickly lead to a blunt knife. To prevent the chopping board from slipping, place a damp paper towel underneath it.
To avoid injury when cutting food, it is best to adopt the “claw grip”. Bend your fingers slightly and place your hand on the item you want to cut. The thumb is tucked behind the fingers. Now you can drive the blade alongside the knuckles without cutting yourself.
For hygiene reasons, it is essential to clean both the knife and the cutting surface when chopping up different types of food. This prevents the transmission of germs from, say, fresh meat to vegetables such as tomatoes, which are to be chopped but not cooked. If you want to be really meticulous, it might be worth buying different chopping boards for different ingredients, like meat, fish and fruit.
Different foods call for different cutting techniques. A popular method for cutting carrots and onions in particular is the tip fulcrum method. The tip of the knife stays on the board whilst the blade moves up, down and forwards in a circular motion. For soft foods such as fish and raw meat, a long cut is best – cut towards yourself using the entire blade.
Some fruit and vegetable varieties require their own cutting techniques. The best way to cut a mango is to cut down through it lengthways on either side of the seed, resulting in two oval-shaped halves. Cut a crosshatch pattern into the flesh of each half and turn the mango inside out; now you have easily removable, ready-to-eat mango cubes.
To cut a pineapple, first cut off the top and bottom using a large knife. Then stand the pineapple up and cut off the skin, following the fruit’s natural contour with the knife. Use a second cut to remove the eyes from the outer flesh.
As with mango, the easiest way to cut an avocado is to slice it into two halves, cut the flesh into a crosshatch pattern and scoop out the cubes. The avocado can be separated with just a single vertical cut around the whole fruit, up to the pit.
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