Cutting techniques for the clueless jialat cook

You’ve probably chopped, sliced and diced. But have you Julienned or Chiffoned before? I haven’t but let’s explore some cutting techniques in this post.

While rushing to cut my pieces of steak for the jjajangbab, I wondered whether I was supposed to cut against or along the grain, as I had vaguely remembered reading. Besides, this was a slice of meat, not a block of wood. What grain does one go with or against? I did some research and cobbled together some photos in info.

Cutting Meat

GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN is the right thing to do!

1. What is the grain?

It refers to the direction that the muscle fibres are aligned. Meat is made up of bundles of long muscle fibres that are laid out parallel to one another.

20100305-slicing-beef-hanger-slices

(Source: Serious Eats)

2.  Why do we want to go against the grain?

Love me tender, love me meat. Yupp, the direction you cut your meat affects how tender our meat will be. Unless you sous vide the sh*t out of your filet mignon such that it is soooo tender regardless of however you cut it, the jialat cook will probably want to do all she can to ensure her meat dish is edible. If this is simply a matter of how you cut your steak, I say, “Just look for the grain and cut against and not parallel to it.”

20100304-slicing-meat-flank-labeled20flank

(Source: Serious Eats)

3. How does that work?

By cutting against the grain, we cut through the fibres and shorten them. Basically, you’re making the knife do the work that jaws and teeth had to. Your meat is now easier to chew through cos the difficult job of cutting through touch muscle fibres has already been done for you. Has this changed what steak cooking/eating is for you already??

Cutting Vegetables

Whether your recipe calls for it or you want to write your own recipe and make it sound more atas (posh), these terms are useful for the jialat cook.

1. Julienne

Starting off with this one because it sounds like the name of a French chef who is on his way to getting his second Michelin star. However, it actually refers to cutting up food (usually vegetables) into strips as thin as matchsticks. Once julienned, turning the subject 90 degrees and dicing finely (⅛ in or 3 mm) will produce brunoise (3 x 3 x 3 mm). (Thanks Wikipedia!)

051118086-03-how-to-julienne_xlg

(Source: Fine Cooking)

Why the hell do you want strips of vegetables? Apparently #aesthetic. It makes your presentation stand out AND gives you more control over cooking because of the uniform sizes.

2. Slice

Moving the knife from top to bottom, creating uniform slices. I guess the key is in uniformity.

3. Dice

Which rhymes with slice. It also resembles its namesake, the humble die used in games of Monopoly, Roulette and Snakes & Ladders. Try to get your vegetable into a regular shape and cut them into uniform-sized cubes.

4. Chiffonade

Clearly a delightful summery afternoon refresher, Chiffonade is a classic pairing of a light chiffon cake and a refreshingly tart lemonade. Or not. It’s yet another cutting technique.

The chiffonade refers to cutting very thin items such as herbs or leaf vegetables such as spinach. Start by stacking the items you are looking to slice. Then roll up the items, producing a cigar-shaped roll. Once it’s rolled, start slicing to produce a nice chiffonade suitable for garnishing and other purposes. (Thanks, The Culinary Cook)

chiffonade

(Source: Amuse Bouche)

5. Mince

Or wince, when you realise this doesn’t involve a cleaver. Aww man, no horror movie moes. Just your ol’ knife, smashin down hard on garlic (or whichever vegetable listed), consequently cutting them into small pieces.

Here’s a nice summary of the cutting techniques I’ve listed, taken off The Everygirl.

maincuttingstyles

More to cutting, chopping and slicing

Till next time! 🙂

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