Knife Cuts Every Home Cook Should Know

Every good cook knows the importance of knife cuts. How you cut an ingredient affects how it cooks, as well as the aesthetics of a dish. If all you do is chaotically chop everything, odds are the chunks will be different sizes, so they won’t all cook at the same time. When it comes to ingredients like herbs and veggies, not cutting them correctly affects their flavor. According to Serious Eats, there are four essential knife cuts everyone should know: the slice, the back-slice, the chop, and the rock chop.

The slice

Ideal for slicing big veggies and meat, you want to be sure you’re cutting on a flat and stable surface. Hold whatever you’re cutting steady and curl your fingers into a claw on the food, so your fingers won’t accidentally get chopped off. The tip of the knife should be against the cutting board, with the knife angled up. Keep the knife’s tip in place and slice your food, using all of the blade’s length.

The back-slice

This cut is when you want fine slices of more fragile ingredients like herbs. You want to avoid crushing them. Say you’re cutting a bundle of herbs. Hold the bundle with your non-knife hand, curling into a claw again, and put the tip of the knife on the cutting board. You will now actually pull the knife through the food, using the blade’s full length, without any downward motion. That downward motion is what would crush the delicate herbs. It seem weird, but when you try it, it makes sense. It’s almost a sawing motion.

The chop

You can use this cut anytime you would use a slice, but you do need a very sharp knife to avoid crushing. Get into the standard cutting position we’ve talked about – stable, flat surface, with a claw hand. The knife is above the board; no tip touching. To make the cut, press downwards, moving the knife a little bit forward through the chop.

The rock chop

A cut used for mincing ingredients, you’ll perform this cut after slicing or chopping. Start with a pile of ingredients and put your knife tip on one side of the pile. With your non-knife hand, you’re actually going to hold the tip, so the knife becomes like a seasaw . Rock the knife up and down using both hands.