I am running into a problem when I try to cut onions/tomatoes using claw grips. I will try describe my problem using a picture. When I begin at one end and start moving to the mid line of the piece it's all fine:

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However, when I reach the midline, I reach a position like so:

enter image description here

It is quite unnatural for me to move the "claw hand" down the remaining convex surface of the onion for purposes of gliding the knife on the correct cut using my finger nails. Is there anyway to continue the initial claw hand moving motion till the end? Or would I have to flip the remaining piece and keep my thumb on the flat side to continue?

  • if you're cutting more then one, mate the halves so that you only have to "awkwardly" chop one half.
    – dandavis
    Jun 26, 2023 at 19:08

1 Answer 1


I'm not certain I can explain this in words completely clearly, however…

As you reach the point at which you start to lose control over your moving grip, either stop your cut halfway through & use your knife hand to let you re-grip, with pressure against the 'locked' knife, or once you get the feel for it, re-adjust your grip during the cut, when you have the knife to push against.
That should get you to at least the 3/4 mark or further, after which you can flip your onion over & in effect trim the rest round the root [which you don't want anyway].

For diced tomato, I use a different technique altogether. More 'straddling' than the traditional claw grip. I posted a long explanation of it here. [Now with pictures.]

BTW, don't use your fingernail as a guide. A sharp knife can go right through a fingernail & half the finger behind it with very little effort [I know, I've done it.] Use your first knuckle instead. That way the blade's edge never rises above it, meaning it can never be in the way of the cut.
See pic -
very hard photo to take, even with my camera on a tripod… I still needed one hand to fire the remote, so the knife is actually just resting halfway through the cut. Camera had to be behind me because of kitchen layout, with me contorting to not be in the way. Red onion, 'cos that's for dinner tonight ;)

enter image description here

Notice how that also forces your grip further back down the body of the onion, so until you get nearly 3/4 of the way through you don't have to change grip at all, just keep curling that forefinger more. The curl at this early point is exaggerated, so it's easier to see.
Also, in this position the finger on top can be used as additional downward pressure as you move the rest of your hand backwards, meaning everything is less likely to slip. Note fingers not actually gripping are providing additional stability on the board.

  • 1
    Jacques Pepin has a short video on cutting onions which may help. Jun 26, 2023 at 20:55
  • @wumpusD'00m - but he doesn't use the guide finger method. He's had enough practise he doesn't need it. I added a pic & while I had the camera out, I added pics to the tomato dicing answer too.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 27, 2023 at 9:46
  • True, but he does use his knuckle(s). It certainly takes practice to cut that precisely that quickly :) Jun 27, 2023 at 13:54
  • @wumpusD'00m - no, I just had another look to make sure. He's nowhere near his fingers, they're only holding the food down, not guiding. I used to live with a pro chef who did the same. I'm not good enough, I have the finger guide ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 27, 2023 at 14:00

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