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Thread: Cutting techniques for optimized efficiency

  1. #1
    Senior Member Avishar's Avatar
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    Cutting techniques for optimized efficiency

    Since the day I started preparing food in a professional kitchen I always have tried to take the time to watch how everyone cuts different products and tried to figure out which way is fastest, wears the edge of our blades the least, and can be repeated continuously without excessive fatigue, thereby optimizing efficiency. I figured it would be helpful to many people to discuss different ways to cut different products, and different ways to use the blades. Diagrams, Videos, Pictures, Notes, Tricks & Cheats, and outside the realm of functional fixedness techniques are all awesome, how do you all do things and why?

    To get things started:

    Diced Onions: Radially, traditional French grid style, or other? Which way do you find the best? parallel cuts or no?

    Bell Peppers: Cutting panels, cutting in half, or cutting tops and bottoms off and "rolling" them out?

    Mincing Herbs: Rocking like a mill, once over, two knives, or the two handed side to side see-saw like motion?

    Fish Skin: Which knife do you use? Do you saw, or hold the knife in place and pull the skin right through?

    Tomatoes: If doing concasse, do you scoop out the center with a spoon, or splat it on the cutting board to remove the seeds and pulp?

    etc. etc.

  2. #2
    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    Onions: I cut radially, I think it is a lot neater than the traditional way and making parallel cuts.
    Peppers: I just sorta roll them on the board with the knife then cut off the ends
    Herbs: Just rock chop, don't bother putting both hands on the blade, it seems unnecessary to me
    Fish: draw cut with whatever knife I have, usually a gyuto

    I think generally, different foods merit different techniques. For example, I always draw cut if I am dicing tomatos with the skin on. If I am dicing cooked bacon I would rock. I don't really push cut as such, I use a slight drawing motion. I have tried the Japanese style thrust cutting but I just suck at it even though it looks cool

  3. #3
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    Onions: Traditional way
    Bell peppers: I roll them out but do not cut off the tops and ends.. Those go off AFTER rolling it out.
    Herbs: Rocking.. Fastest way IMO
    Fish skin: Fillet knife, 6". Depending on how large the fish is, I use different techniques. For large fish like cod/tuna etc, I do something like what you would do while dressing meats. Other, more "manageable" sizes I would hold it down and pull basically.
    Tomatoes: Now this is really subjective.. I've worked with 6 different chefs, 4 wants the concasse with seeds in cause that's where the liquid flavour is. For the others, seeds are a big no no.. As such, I usually de-seed each quarter with my knife...

    Generally, I would push/trust/draw cut most stuff. Rocking for fine chopping herbs. Now if I was going to halve grapes/olives/tomatoes/rolls, the technique I use is the exact same one that is demonstrated by Theory in is recent vid.. That minimizes the number of times my edge touches the poly boards that are used by all the places that I have worked in so far..

    Besides that, has anyone have a chef come up to them and tell them not to use a specific technique?? I have been told quite a few times by different chefs not to push/trust cut, but rather to do the traditional rocking motion for everything...

  4. #4
    Avishar:

    For fish skin, are you referring to portioning out fish fillets, skin on, with the skin on the board?
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  5. #5
    Senior Member BertMor's Avatar
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    He means in butchering, prepping the fish, removing the skin. I use Either a long slicer, yanagiba or a chef/gyuto. I saw while shaking and pulling the skin.

    Onions the traditional way. I have no problem getting them nice and even. I am a classicist
    I've used all those methods on peppers. It depends what I am doing and how much I have to make
    Herbs I do the two hand rock

    Concasse - if i am doing traditional classic style, I quarter, cut out the pulp, then dice the fillets. I use the pulp for other things. Avoid using seeds they are bitter, but the pulp and liquid are yummy
    Bert M.

    Why?! Because footballs don't have wheels!

  6. #6
    Thanks Bert.

    Here's what I do for fish:

    For filleting fish, I use whatever I have around for small fish (a sharp point is crucial, however). For large fish, I use a combo of a cleaver (to hack of heads and collars, break pin bones or belly bones), and a larger knife (gyuto, breaking knife/scimitar, long flexible fillet knife, gyuto).

    For cutting steaks from loins of fish, for small loins, I pull cut if I'm sure I can cut through the skin in one stroke. If not, I push. I usually use a breaking knife/scimitar or yanagiba. My reasoning is that you'll be able to exert more force at the heel of a knife than the tip when finishing a cut, and if the skin that you're trying to cut at the end of your stroke is tough, you might as well be cutting with more force than less. For larger loins that require two strokes, I pull and push - same reason as above. A really sharp knife makes this a LOT easier and allows me to only pull cut.

    For skinning fillets, I do not saw. I pull straight through. Sawing, in my experience, creates divots or ridges in the meat. I use either a cheapo stainless 8 inch Dexter flexible fillet knife or 240 yanagiba. I try to hit that sweet spot between the skin and flesh (where there's oil and fat) and keep my edge angled slight down, not parallel to the board; I cut in between the skin and meat, grab the skin, and just pull the skin, but angling my knife down so it doesn't flip up into the meat. This is easiest on fresh fish; older fish may require a little of a "sawing" motion, but I move the skin slightly side to side, and push the knife a little forward.

    Onions: haven't decided yet. I've been doing the traditional French style, but starting to do radially. Radially seems to be much better for slices, but still need to do more to see if it creates more consistent cuts when it comes to chopping and dicing. Theoretically, it seems that it would.

    Bell Peppers: I generally roll out after cutting the tops and bottoms off.

    Concasse: No preference, but I keep the seeds and juice.

    Herbs: Depending on how finely I want them cut, I'll push cut for coarse chopping; rock cut for super fine cuts (sometimes just one hand, sometimes two).
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  7. #7
    Diced Onions: Radial cuts, then across the grain. Quick and uniform.

    Bell Peppers: Cut em in half, reach into the halves and put your fingers around the membranes and fingertips around the seeds, and pull it out over a trash can. Slap the cavity against your other palm to de-seed. Slice horizontally starting with the top end(because the tail end is more stable), and if you want the chopped, just turn the stack sideways and chop it up.

    Mincing Herbs: Chiffonade, turn sideways, chop it up. Two-handed walk if necessary.

    Fish Skin: I use what ever knife is not blazing sharp, so whatever I just broke the fish down with. I move the knife, not the skin(that would never work on a sani-tuff).


    I actually have a method for dicing strawberries I am pretty proud of, you do it with a petty:
    Strawberries: Grab by the tip, and push the knife in midair through the top. This way, the leaves don't cut and just come off with the top. Place cut end down. Pinch the strawberry in an upside-down 'u' shape grip, and pull the knife through the strawberry between your thumb and fingers, quickly twist the strawberry 90deg, and push the knife through 1/3 of the strawberry at a 45deg angle, creating two small pieces. Drop the strawberry over on the new cut surface, and push cut it 1 or 2 times, depending on the berry's size. Sounds complicated, but I can make a gigantic bowl of hacked up strawberry chunks in VERY short order. Each one is just zip-zip-zip--6 even pieces.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    Diced Onions: Radial cuts, then across the grain. Quick and uniform.

    Bell Peppers: Cut em in half, reach into the halves and put your fingers around the membranes and fingertips around the seeds, and pull it out over a trash can. Slap the cavity against your other palm to de-seed. Slice horizontally starting with the top end(because the tail end is more stable), and if you want the chopped, just turn the stack sideways and chop it up.

    Mincing Herbs: Chiffonade, turn sideways, chop it up. Two-handed walk if necessary.

    Fish Skin: I use what ever knife is not blazing sharp, so whatever I just broke the fish down with. I move the knife, not the skin(that would never work on a sani-tuff).


    I actually have a method for dicing strawberries I am pretty proud of, you do it with a petty:
    Strawberries: Grab by the tip, and push the knife in midair through the top. This way, the leaves don't cut and just come off with the top. Place cut end down. Pinch the strawberry in an upside-down 'u' shape grip, and pull the knife through the strawberry between your thumb and fingers, quickly twist the strawberry 90deg, and push the knife through 1/3 of the strawberry at a 45deg angle, creating two small pieces. Drop the strawberry over on the new cut surface, and push cut it 1 or 2 times, depending on the berry's size. Sounds complicated, but I can make a gigantic bowl of hacked up strawberry chunks in VERY short order. Each one is just zip-zip-zip--6 even pieces.
    And vids for the strawberries??? LOL I really would wanna see that.. I'm more of a visual person.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    I actually have a method for dicing strawberries I am pretty proud of, you do it with a petty:
    Strawberries: Grab by the tip, and push the knife in midair through the top. This way, the leaves don't cut and just come off with the top. Place cut end down. Pinch the strawberry in an upside-down 'u' shape grip, and pull the knife through the strawberry between your thumb and fingers, quickly twist the strawberry 90deg, and push the knife through 1/3 of the strawberry at a 45deg angle, creating two small pieces. Drop the strawberry over on the new cut surface, and push cut it 1 or 2 times, depending on the berry's size. Sounds complicated, but I can make a gigantic bowl of hacked up strawberry chunks in VERY short order. Each one is just zip-zip-zip--6 even pieces.
    I have no idea what that means, haha. Pics or vid please.

    I do radial cuts on onions. Much neater and uses more of the onion.

    Peppers I cut the sides and bottom off, stack and cut as necessary.

    Herbs for garnish I never mince. Mincing bruises them too much. I just go with a very fine chiffonade when I want something small.
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyChance View Post
    I have no idea what that means, haha. Pics or vid please.

    I do radial cuts on onions. Much neater and uses more of the onion.

    Peppers I cut the sides and bottom off, stack and cut as necessary.

    Herbs for garnish I never mince. Mincing bruises them too much. I just go with a very fine chiffonade when I want something small.
    I also have some difficulty picturing radially cutting onions.. An explanation maybe?
    I also agree with not mincing for garnishes. Usually it's herbs that go into a marinade/rub that gets the mince treatment.

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