Cutting vegetables is so much easier when you don’t have to take out your chopper/dicer device. You might think that the electric gadget is quicker and easier than your standard chef’s knife, but you’d be wrong.
Let’s have a race. Ready, go! Get your chopper appliance down from the cabinet. Plug it in to the electric outlet. Then, fiddle with the bowl a little because it never fits just right the first time. Next comes the blade. You have to twist it a few times before it finally clicks into place.
Now, you have to use a knife to peel and cut the onion in half so it fits in the chopper. If you can fit a whole onion, then the lid goes on and you push the button a few times to turn the onion into dust. Not equally diced pieces, but mush and water.
Okay, empty the electric onion into a bowl, and unplug the gadget from the wall. Rinse out the chopper bowl, remove the blade and clean it off. Wipe down the counter and the electric motor before returning it to the cabinet.
Stop! Now it’s the chefs knife turn. Step one, peel and chop the onion. Step two, rinse the knife. Done.
Cutting vegetables becomes more fun when you know how to hold and use the chef’s knife correctly. It’s actually quicker, easier, safer, and cleaner than any device you can buy, but it takes a little practice.
How you hold the knife is most important. Many people mistakenly hold the knife like a club. All fingers wrapped around the handle, meeting the thumb on the other side. However, the knife can spin in the hand if held this way, making it dangerous.
The correct way to hold a chefs knife is between thumb and forefinger at the point where the handle meets the blade. Then, your other three fingers wrap around the handle. This way, the knife is “locked” into place by your index finger resting on the spine of the knife.
The motion you use for cutting vegetables is also important. Rather than a straight up-and-down motion, the tip of the knife should always stay in contact with the cutting board. This is called “tip-fulcrum method”, and the motion is down, forward a bit, and up again. It’s like dipping water from a bucket with a spoon.
The most important hand in using the chef’s knife is the one that is NOT holding the knife. It has the greatest opportunity to be cut, especially exposed finger tips. So, I use “kung-fu grip”, curling my fingers and thumb under my palm so only the knuckles stick out.
The knuckles are very important because the chef’s knife will use the non-knife hand as a guide. As long as the knife rides against the knuckle, you always know where the sharp blade is. It’s the non-knife hand that dictates the increment of the cut.
Moving the left hand in greater increments when cutting vegetables gives bigger pieces. Moving in smaller increments yields thinner pieces.
The knife hand is dumb. Its only job is to perform tip-fulcrum method and stay in contact with that knuckle on the non-knife hand. It’s the hand that’s NOT holding the knife that’s the brains of the operation.
Where’s the enjoyment in cutting vegetables with an electric chopper? You learn no new skills; you have no pride in what you’ve done. Start using your chef’s knife and you’ll enjoy visually appealing food and a skill to last a lifetime.
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