I often cut bell peppers up for uses in chili, stir-fry, salsas, salads, or any other similar use. What type of knife should I use and how should I cut it? I'm most interested in the techniques associated with efficiency and safety.
For efficiency, I cut planks off of the outside of the pepper, then slice those planks into strips.
I've seen cooking shows where they take the top & bottom off to make a tube, and then slice it on one side, and slice that up ... and you do end up with straighter sticks that way. (no curved ends, other then when you cut up the bottom ... and maybe slice what you can off the top) ... but I find it slower overall.
The way I learned growing up was to but around the green bit on the stem end, and then pull the seeds out, and then start cutting -- but you waste way too much time dealing with the seeds that way.
update: for safety, it's better to cut the planks individually, and with the skin down.
I would cut the bell pepper on the sides first. What I mean by that is, cut the side of the pepper widely on all four sides such that you end up with four big somewhat rectangular portions of the pepper and the seeds portion will be left out. Discard that. Of the big pieces, proceed slicing them the way you want. Horizontal or vertical depending upon the length you desire. I hope the type of knife doesn't matter for this. I always do this and pretty much end up with slices shown in the picture.
If you don't care about the strips being straight, then cutting the pepper into rings is probably the fastest and easiest approach. One quick slice to remove the top, pull out the seeds and ribs, then slice into 6 to 8 rings.
Cut the rings in halves or quarters, then pop the stem out of the top and slice it and the bottom up separately.
With a little practice, you can cut the top so that the stem, ribs and seeds all come out with a twist.
Cut off top and bottom, and either:
- make a cut through the flesh straight next to a rib, lay the whole cylinder on the board, and "unroll" with a knife that is laid flat on the flesh, cutting through the remaining ribs.
- cut the ribs loose with a narrow enough knife.
The rest (making strips of the flesh and if desired also the top and bottom) is "straight" chopping technique.
Cutting skin side up or skin side down is a matter of debate. Skin side up takes a decently sharp knife but makes "accordioning" mistakes (incomplete cuts) easier to mitigate.