Thursday, 25 April 2013

How to Cut Vegetables Diagonally

Most Chinese recipes call for vegetables cut on the diagonal. Vegetables cut on the diagonal take less time cooking because more surface area is exposed to the heat source, an ideal way to cook in a wok. Vegetables cut on the diagonal also look more appetizing and can be used in almost any recipe. Here are a few tips to help you get started.


1. Start with a sharp knife or cleaver. A knife that is dull causes you to put more pressure down and this can cause accidents. Use a sharp knife for cutting; curl your fingers under on the hand that is holding the vegetable to be cut to reduce accidents.

2. Wash the vegetables before cutting. If you wash the vegetables after cutting, they will take longer to dry and could lose some flavor. Dry the vegetables before cutting.

3. Slice the vegetables on a forty-five degree angle, sizing them according to the recipe you are making. If slicing vegetables for a stew, the diagonal cut vegetables can be cut larger because cooking time will be longer. Vegetables that are well suited for cutting on the diagonal are cylinder shaped such as carrots, bean, bok choy or celery. Round vegetables can be cut on the diagonal after you've sliced the bottom off to give you a solid base to work with.

4. Cut the vegetables by holding the tip of the knife down on your cutting surface and rock the blade up and down. This is the safest way to cut vegetables and may take some practice. Don't rush yourself and your diagonal cut vegetables will be perfect.


Techniques for Cutting Vegetables

Vegetables are cut in certain sizes and shapes to properly cook and look attractive. Various techniques make the task uncomplicated, all of which can be performed with a standard 8- to 11-inch chef's knife with a triangular blade, whose design makes it easy to control the blade and cutting motion.

Round Vegetable Slicing
Slicing large vegetables like heads of cabbage can be challenging. Place the knife on top of the vegetable with your hand on the top. Apply pressure to the tip of the blade and when it starts to penetrate the top, even the pressure to cut completely through the head. It may be necessary to gently rock the blade back and forth to complete the cut. To stabilize small round vegetables like onions for slicing, cut a thin slice off one side to create a flat surface. Hold the onion in place, flat surface down with one hand and use your other hand to make slices of the desired thickness. Use the full length of the blade and rock it, rather than dragging it back and forth to saw the food.

Julienned Vegetables
Julienne means to cut into small, matchstick pieces. To julienne a long vegetable like a carrot, first cut it into easily-controllable pieces like thirds or quarters. Once the carrot has been vertically sectioned, cut a thin slice off the side of each piece to make it lie flat. Cut the vegetable lengthwise into thin panels and stack them. Cut each stack into thin, julienne strips. For oval shapes, cut the vegetable in half vertically so there are two surfaces. Place each half flat side down and cut crescent-shaped slices. Stack the slices and cut them into matchstick-size pieces.

Bias Vegetable Slicing
To keep vegetables crisper and make them more attractive, cut them on the bias by placing the knife blade at a 45-degree angle to the food's surface. This is a common technique for cutting scallions, broccoli, celery, carrots and other long vegetables.

Dicing and Mincing Vegetables
Diced vegetables are cut into uniform cubes between 1/4- and 3/4-inches-square. If the cubes are smaller, the technique is called mincing. Cut the vegetable in half and, if it has a root end like an onion or tomato, leave that part intact to hold the vegetable together while you make evenly-spaced horizontal slices in it. When the horizontal slices have been made, cut down through the top of the vegetable to the bottom to create little squares.

Chiffonade Cut
Leafy vegetables and herbs like spinach and basic have thin leaves that are difficult to slice. To make the process easier, stack 10 or 12 leaves and tightly roll them into a cylinder from the long side of the leaves. Place the rolled leaves seam-side down on a cutting board and vertically cut them into thin slices using a swift rocking motion with the knife blade, while keeping its tip on the cutting surface. This creates ribbons or chiffonade.