How to Chop: A Knife Skills Primer

Sharp, sturdy knives are a must-have, whether you're a Luddite or a molecular maven. Plus: An overview of basic knife skills.
Tips and illustrations of essential blades and basic knife skills.
Tips and illustrations of essential blades and basic knife skills.
© Peter Arkle.

Knife Skills: Get a Grip

Knife Skills: How to hold a knife

© 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.


Knife Skills: Hand position for chopping

© 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.


Knife Skills: Hand position for slicing

© 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

Knife Skills: Dicing an onion

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Dicing an onion

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Dicing an onion

© Peter Arkle


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



Peeling & Sectioning Citrus

Knife Skills: Peeling citrus

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Sectioning citrus

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Sectioning citrus

© Peter Arkle


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



Making a Chiffonade

Knife Skills: 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.


Knife Skills: Making a chiffonade

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Making a chiffonade

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Five Must-Have Knives

Knife Skills: Chef’s Knife

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Santoku Knife

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Serrated Utility Knife

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Slicing/Carving Knife

© Peter Arkle


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


Knife Skills: Paring Knife

© Peter Arkle


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


Video Video: Knife Tips & Skills

Kitchen Tools and Design:

PUBLISHED December 2011

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