In a restaurant, culinary knife cuts have to be precise. Culinary knife cuts offer a standardization to meal preparation. Any chef can prepare a meal since the exact sizes of food prep are known. At home, of course, the precision does not need to be there. But knowing and using culinary knife cuts at home are necessary to make sure all foods get cooked equally. I’m sure we all have come across meals where some carrot bits are small and mushy while others are large and still pretty hard. If they were cut uniformly, they would all be cooked the same. Here are the standard culinary knife cuts. Try using them as much as you can.
As with any knife cut, a good sharp knife is important. Whether you use a chef knife or a santoku, keeping it sharp will not only make cleaner cuts, but also be safer. I like a whetstone for sharpening, but single and double stage manual or electric sharpeners will work. For more info on kitchen knives, or accessories, visit one of my other sites at: www.YourCutleryHelper.com.
Culinary Knife Cuts
Standardized knife cuts come in 2 varieties: strip cuts and cube cuts. Cube cuts start as a standard strip cut, then simply cut into cubes.
The Batonnet Knife Cut
Translated literally from French, batonnet means “little stick”. The batonnet measures approximately ½ inch × ½ inch × 2 inches. It is also the starting point for the medium dice.
The Allumette Knife Cut
Sometimes also called the “matchstick cut” (which is the translation of “allumette” from French) the allumette measures approximately ¼ inch × ¼ inch × 2 inches. It’s also the starting point for the small dice.
The Julienne Knife Cut
An urban legend has this cut named for Julia Child, but the first reference to it occurs in François Massialot’s Le Cuisinier Royal in 1722. The julienne measures approximately 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2 inches. It’s also the starting point for the brunoise cut.
The Fine Julienne Knife Cut
Measures approximately 1/16 inch × 1/16 inch × 2 inches. It’s also the starting point for the fine brunoise cut.
Large Dice (Carre)
Cubes with sides measuring approximately ¾ inch.
Medium Dice (Parmentier)
Cubes with sides measuring approximately ½ inch, created by cutting the batonnet cut into cubes.
Small Dice (Macedoine)
Cubes with sides measuring approximately ¼ inch, created by cutting the allumette cut into cubes.
The Brunoise Knife Cut
Tiny cubes, with sides measuring approximately 1/8 inch, created by cutting the julienne into cubes.
Even tinier cubes, with sides measuring approximately 1/16 inch, created by cutting the fine julienne into cubes.
There are other types of cuts, but they get pretty exotic, and the level of difficulty of these cuts rise dramatically. I’ll leave them for another day!