Cooking in Langley: A lesson on using knives in the kitchen

Learn more at www.chefdez.com. Send culinary questions to dez@chefdez.com.

Using Knives in the Kitchen – Part 3

As the final entry of a three-part series on cutting, this column will focus on cutting techniques. If you missed either two of my previous columns on knives or cutting boards, see chefdez.com.

Now that you are informed about how to start your knife collection and which cutting boards to use, it is time to focus on the act of cutting itself. Nothing is better than having a personal one-on-one lesson on cutting, but I will try to do my best in written form to communicate some basic tips to get you started.

When holding a “Chef’s” knife, it is important to have it balanced properly in your hand to reduce fatigue and improve control. To find this balance point, carefully place approximately the middle of the flat side surface of the knife’s blade on your extended index finger a couple of inches over a cutting board. Slowly move the knife, so that your finger travels up or down the knife’s blade, to find the position on the knife where it is completely balanced by your one finger. At that point place your thumb of your same hand on the opposite side of the blade and wrap your remaining fingers around the handle.

On a good quality knife, this balance point will be approximately on the first inch of where the blade extends from the handle. This is usually because the knife has a full tang, and the weight of this full tang in the handle offsets the weight of the remaining steel in the knife’s extended blade. It may seem awkward at first, to grasp the base of the blade in your hand, but after regular practice, it will become comfortable. Holding the knife in other fashions, such as having the index finger extended on the top of the knife when cutting, will reduce the amount of control one has and increase the chance of injury. If you find these instructions on holding a Chef’s knife are unclear, I recommend searching the internet to get a visual of this technique.

Placement of the opposite hand (the one holding the food) is also just as vital to prevent injury. One should grasp the product in a claw type fashion, with the finger tips bent inwards and the thumb tucked behind them. Having the finger tips bent in towards the palm of the hand will get them out of harm’s way of the knife blade, and thus reduce the risk of injury.

Always practice precision and speed will come in time. Having precise cuts is better than risking an injury. Welcome the chance to practice your knife skills with every opportunity and efficiency will come naturally.

Dear Chef Dez:

Any tips on cutting a loaf of bread horizontally without it being uneven? For example, cutting a full loaf of French bread in half to make garlic bread. Every time I do it, it is never even.

Pam C., Airdrie, Alta.

Dear Pam:

After starting the cut, it is important to watch where the top edge of your serrated knife is as it moves along the loaf. Don’t watch the part of the knife closest to the handle as it will follow the same even path simultaneously as the top edge. It is closer to where your hand is controlling the knife, and thus less chance for error as long as the knife is even by watching the top edge.

Also be careful to keep your other hand completely flat on the top of the loaf as you cut. Any fingers that could be carelessly hanging down off the side of the loaf are susceptible to being cut accidentally. As an extra precaution, continue to move this hand down the loaf as you cut, keeping it an inch or two away from where the knife is doing the cutting at all times. When you get close to the end of cutting the loaf, move this hand over to the other side of the bread (that has been cut already), to prevent injury as the knife exits the loaf.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants couldn’t find the net: coach

Even with a six-on-three advantage, the Langley-based hockey team couldn’t earn points Sunday.

Unexpected tree lot sprouted in Langley for one day only

With dozens of artificial trees in the Penny Pinchers thrift store, they introduced a sale Saturday.

New Trinity Western student residence is a first for Canada

Five-storey building on Langley campus is second dorm to use modular construction for a quick build

Furor over Japanese flag in Langley classroom (updated)

Secondary school students petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Everett pulls ahead in Western Conference standings over Vancouver Giants

Langley-based hockey G-Men, who lost 6-5 to Everett Saturday, now prepares to take on Victoria.

1st Indigenous woman to start Canadian airline looks to B.C.’s remote regions

Teara Fraser is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to start her own airline, called Iskwew Air

5 to start your day

B.C. cracks down on ‘dirty money,’ homicide detectives investigate Maple Ridge death and more

Bankruptcies in British Columbia on the rise

Consumer bankruptcies climbed by 6. 1 per cent in August 2018 from the same month last year.

22 public toilets in Victoria: 136 people currently peeing

World Toilet Day floats some serious health issues

Calgary Stampeders back to Grey Cup with 22-14 win over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Calgary was favoured to win the 2017 and 2016 Grey Cups, but lost to the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks respectively.

‘A giant step forward’: new $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond to enter circulation

A new $10 banknote featuring Viola Desmond’s portrait will go into circulation, just over 72 years after she was ousted from the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S.

Searchers in California wildfire step up efforts; 77 dead

Trump arrived at the oceanside conclave Saturday afternoon after visiting Northern California to survey the wildfire damage in the town of Paradise.

Trump says ‘no reason’ for him to hear Khashoggi death tape

“It’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it,” Trump said in the interview.

Canada Post calls for ‘cooling off’ period to allow for mediated talks

The proposal came as Canada Post workers continued their rotating strikes Monday after rejecting the Crown agency’s latest offer.

Most Read