Mise en place: An Essential Guide to Classic Vegetable Cuts
There are a few basic skills that making cooking every day that much simpler like mise en place and good knife skills for example. Learning and practising them may be tricky but once you’re au fait with them, they become second nature. Knife skills are a wonderful thing to master.
The term mise en place literally translates to put things in their place and this tells you everything you need to know about getting yourself organised in the kitchen.
Doing your mise en place (prepping all your veggies) before your start cooking will help you work more efficiently, more safely and economically, as you won’t waste masses of produce. We list a few basic knife skills for you to practice so that you’re one step closer to becoming a kitchen maestro.
Mise en Place: Classic Vegetable Cuts
Whatever fruit or vegetable you’re working with, you’ll want to peel and trim it. If you’re working with a carrot, cut it in half so you have two equal lengths to work with. Then, trim off one end so that you have a secure base to work on. Then cut off little blocks, and then slice those into even little sticks, otherwise known as julienne. The dimensions for julienne are roughly 3mm x 3mm x 5cm. As the name suggests, Julienne fine is an even finer version of the same cut (0.5mm × 1.5mm × 3-5 cm).
Similar in shape to julienne, a jardiniere cut is slightly bigger, however, they are roughly 5mm x 5mm x5cm (although, they can be slightly longer).
This cut sits between the Julienne and baton and usually measures about 5 cm in length and 1 cm width.
A much larger, thicker version of julienne and jardiniere cut, a baton usually measures about 1.5 x 5 cm.
Large Dice (Carré)
Large dice is pretty much what the name says – a cubed cut measuring 2 cm evenly all round.
Medium Dice (Parmentier)
Medium dice is the same style cut as large dice, just slightly smaller around 1.5 cm.
Small Dice (Macedoine)
Macedoine is also a cube shape, but one that measures about 5-6 mm.
A small dice measuring 3 mm.
An even finer dice measuring in at 1.5 mm.
A rather 70s cut, the tourné shape resembles a football and is usually thumb-length. This may sound simple enough, but the cut always needs seven sides.
As the name suggests, a rondelle cut is when the vegetable is cut into circular rounds or disks.
Just as in French, this knife cut is cutting vegetables diagonally into obliques.
Paysanne refers to a thinly sliced cut and is often the same shape as the vegetable, so, for example, a carrot might be thin round slices. Think of slicing vegetables on a mandolin to help visualise how a paysanne cut would be.
A diamond-shaped cut.
Not technically a knife cut, a Parisienne cut requires a Parisienne scoop, a small ice cream scoop shaped piece of equipment. There are varying sizes of scoop shape.
This is a great way of serving soft herbs (parsley, coriander, mint etc) as garnish. What you want to do is take your herbs off the stems so you’re just left with the leaves. Then gather them together and stack the leaves in a neat little pile, then curl them so the pile is nice and tight and then very finely slice the leaves. You want to make sure that you’re slicing, not chopping. This is not the time to be pressing hard, you want to keep the tip of your knife in one spot and slide the knife’s blade backward and forwards to create a thin ribbon.
A very fine knife cut usually refers to an onion preparation (thin slices).
Thank you to Chef Rudi Liebenberg and his team at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel for preparing the vegetable cuts.