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What are some good resources for learning Knife Skills?

I'm about to join some cooking classes but I'm totally green at this sort of thing.

So I can preserve some of my humility and not look totally incompetent - how can I learn to cut quickly and efficiently without lopping some fingers and limbs off in the process?

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marked as duplicate by BaffledCook, BobMcGee, Aaronut Aug 5 '12 at 15:01

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cooking is not about working like a chef! Chefs learn to peel, chop and cook quickly because they have to work against time limits. A customer walks in the restaurant, sits down and orders some food that he wants to eat before he officially becomes a senior citizen. The chef's aim is to provide food in a short timescale.

You want to learn to cook, you need to learn how to cut things into "small dice", medium dice", strips, whatever - doing it fast like a pro doesn't make you a better cook.

Get a good knife, like Elendil suggested, in any case. That's a good idea. Then when you step into the cookery class, "check your ego at the door", as the notice said on the studio entrance when they made the BandAid singles. This is not a competition, this is learning to cook, personal skills - or is it?

Let me tell you that if you're hoping to hit it off with your classmates, you stand just as much chance of success in that sphere if you need their help ...

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There are almost as many ways to cut up ingredients as there are ingredients to cut up, but the basics of chopping vegetables and meat are fairly straightforward. As with any task, if you practice slowly, speed will come in time - do not try and speed-chop like you see on TV straight away; you'll just cut yourself, and there will be no prizes for finishing first in any case.

A good, sharp knife is a must. Somewhat counter-intuitively, a sharp knife is usually safer than a semi-blunt one because it is less likely to slip off whatever you're chopping and bury itself in your hand or finger.

Invest in a decent knife early and you will get better results and enjoy the process of preparing ingredients so much more. You don't have to spend a fortune and a decent knife from the likes of Global or Wusthof for $150 (Australian) will last you for many years more than a cheap, quickly blunted $30 knife from the supermarket.

You need perhaps 3 knives at the most. Knife manufacturers have a knife for every occasion, but you only really need a good size chef's knife (which will do everything from jointing a chicken to mincing garlic), a small paring knife for very delicate work, and a serrated knife for bread etc. To start with, the chef's knife is all you need.

Finally, an excellent source of chopping how-tos is YouTube. Simply search for 'how to cut vegetables' (or search for how to chop a specific item) and watch away. Buy yourself a bag of cheap onions, carrots, and/or peppers and practice away - you can always portion and freeze the veg ready for use later.

Good luck, have fun, and remember we are here to answer all your cooking questions.

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A 28cm or 32cm chefs knife should not cost more than 30€. Look for vanadium steel knifes. Look here for more info. –  BaffledCook Aug 4 '12 at 14:05
    
Sure, you can pay as little or as much as you like. I'd rather pay a little extra and get a quality product that will last me longer. Steel composition isn't the only factor. You buy cheap, you buy twice. –  ElendilTheTall Aug 4 '12 at 15:12

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