Art is a part of the culinary arts and your knife is your brush. Of course, no one's going to take out a ruler and measure your knife cuts in your own kitchen.
But sloppy knife work can make for a sloppy-looking dish. Skilled knife skills shows that you care and take pride in your dishes. It's a way of paying a compliment to whoever you're serving the dish to by saying to them, "You're worth the trouble."
Consistent cutting technique ensures your food is cooked to a uniform degree of doneness. The Cuisineist's kitchens went to work and chose three basic knife skills we should all master in time. Allumette , Bunouse and Julienne . Practicing our knife skills every time we are in the kitchen makes us better cooks so lets get started.
The first step in making an allumette cut (prounced al-yoo-MET) is to cut your product into ½-inch slices and 2½ to 3 inches long. Then square off the edges, and then you're going to cut them in half lengthwise, giving you several flat pieces, ½ inch wide and ¼ inch thick.
Now since they're flat, you can stack a few of them up -- maybe 3 or 4 at a time. Using the tip of your chef's knife slice the whole stack right down the middle and continue lowering the tip of the blade through the entire length and thickness of the stack. Then you have it !
Bunouse is a small dice cut of 1/8 inch cubes, typically of vegetables. Brunoised vegetables are the tiniest of cuts. The formal-looking little squares add color and elegance to dishes. First cut a flat surface on each of the vegetable’s four sides, making a rectangle shape. Now cut 1/8-inch thick slices, lengthwise. Then stack the vegetable rectangles flat, one on top of the other, and repeat the 1/8-inch thick, lengthwise slices. Turn the vegetable stick at a 90-degree angle and cut once again, into 1/8-thick slices. The result will be beautiful !
A julienne (also called a "matchstick") is a type of cut that makes a long thin strip. It's a good technique to use for vegetables and other ingredients when you want to heighten their presentation. Peel the skin from the vegetable if necessary then Trim away any root or stem parts.
Cut the edible part of the vegetable into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Cut around the seeds if necessary. The last step is to cut these slices into even strips 1/4-inch thick. A few tips to remember are ,
- The ideal julienne cut is about two inches long
- Save any scraps for vegetable stock or to use in other recipes.
- You can use julienned vegetables as a garnish, or use them as a substitute for chopped vegetables in your favorite recipe for a different look.
- A sharp, non-serrated kitchen knife makes the best cuts. Avoid serrated knives, which "saw" through food.