Sharp, sturdy knives are a must-have, whether you're a Luddite or a molecular maven. Plus: An overview of basic knife skills.

April 27, 2012

In this article:

 ">Chefs’ Knife Tips & Skills

Knife Skills: Get a Grip


© Peter Arkle

Holding Grasp the knife firmly by the handle, gripping at the base of the blade with your thumb on one side and your bent index finger on the other.


© Peter Arkle

Chopping Use an outstretched hand to steady and secure the tip end of the knife blade while bringing the knife up and down across what you're chopping.


© Peter Arkle

Slicing Use a cupped hand to secure what you are slicing; curl your fingertips in toward the palm so the second joints of your fingers can guide the knife.

Knife Skills: The Essentials

Dicing an Onion


© Peter Arkle

1. Halve the onion through the root; set it down flat. Cut horizontal slices almost to the root.


© Peter Arkle

2. Make even, vertical slices that are the same width as the horizontal slices.


© Peter Arkle

3. Guiding the knife with curled- in fingers, cut straight down from the wide end to the root end.

Peeling & Sectioning Citrus


© Peter Arkle

1. Cut off the peel from top to bottom in strips, removing all of the bitter white pith.


© Peter Arkle

2. Holding the fruit, slide the knife along a membrane until you reach the pithy core.


© Peter Arkle

3. Slide the knife along the membrane on the other side of the section; release the section.

Making a Chiffonade


© Peter Arkle

1. Gather all of the leaves you'll be shredding and stack them in a not-too-tall, neat and even pile.


© Peter Arkle

2. Beginning at a long edge, roll up the stack of leaves into a tight cylinder.


© Peter Arkle

3. Slice the roll crosswise as thinly as possible and fluff the shreds to unfurl completely.

Knife Skills: Five Must-Have Knives


© Peter Arkle

1. Chef's Knife A workhorse for everything from mincing garlic to cutting up chickens.


© Peter Arkle

2. Santoku Super-versatile; for slicing and chopping vegetables and fruit and cutting up meat.


© Peter Arkle

3. Serrated Utility Knife For chopping chocolate, peeling pineapples and cutting hard cheese.


© Peter Arkle

4. Slicing/Carving Knife For slicing cooked meats on or off the bone, like roasts, hams and turkey.


© Peter Arkle

5. Paring Knife For small jobs: peeling garlic, soft fruits or boiled potatoes or hulling strawberries.

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