You have no doubt seen a Middle Eastern chef slicing meat off the Shawarma rotisserie in perfectly thin, even strips. How do they do it and get it just right every time?
There is a technique to it and just about all the knife work you will need to do in the kitchen. Good knife skills save you time, result in beautiful meals and they keep you safe. Here are 3 things you need to know to improve your knife skills.
It’s all about the knife
It is impossible to perfect your knife skills if you are starting off with a poor quality knife. Knives need to be sturdy, sharp enough and comfortable to handle. A multi-tasking Chef’s knife will be good enough for slicing, chopping and dicing.
You might also like to take it a notch up and have different knives for different purposes. This will help get the right proportions and cuts for meat, fish, vegetables for salads and more.
The paring knife you use for peeling and deseeding will differ from the boning knife you use to remove bones. Using a specialized knife will protect your other knives from damage too. Don’t task your chef’s knife to chop bone, you will likely ruin it. For that, you need a cleaver.
Once you have the right knife, you need to maintain it. That means cleaning it well, preferably by hand and not in the dishwasher. Secondly, it is advisable to sharpen your knife regularly. A sharp knife is a chef’s joy.
It’s not all about the knife, it’s also about skill
The right knife in the hands of an unskilled chef will not yield the desired results. You could even get an electric knife to slice your Shawarma, but if you do not learn how to use it, it won’t be helpful. The only trick here is to practice and give it time.
With time you will be skilled at dicing and slicing. You will know how to julienne and chop like a pro. Gordon Ramsey advises starting off with slicing softer vegetables like zucchini and work your way up to carrots and more.
The same advice applies when it comes to butchering meat. Start off with smaller animals like rabbit and then chicken before working your way up to larger ones like goats.
A sharp knife can make cooking a joy, it can also turn cooking into a disaster if you get your finger stuck under it. Pros follow the 3 finger rule when chopping: the knuckle of the middle finger is forward, protecting the ring and index finger, which are positioned further back.
To improve your knife skills and remain safe with a knife, you need to pay attention when you are cutting, chopping slicing and peeling. Even if you have done it several times, it is not a good idea to attempt to multi task when using a knife.