Mise en place: An Essential Guide to Classic Vegetable Cuts
There are a few basic skills that make everyday cooking that much simpler, like mise en place and knife skills, for example. Mastering the art of mise en place may be tricky, at first, but once you’re ‘au fait’ with them, it becomes second nature.
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. Owning a set of good knives also greatly improves your knife skills. 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. Next, cut off little blocks, before slicing those into little, even 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 × 3-5cm).
Similar in shape to julienne, a jardiniere cut is slightly bigger, however, they are roughly 5mm x 5mm x 5cm (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, for example, a carrot might be cut into thin round slices. Think of slicing vegetables on a mandolin to help visualise how a paysanne cut would be.
A diamond-shaped cut. This one requires a lot of symmetry.
Not technically a knife cut, as a Parisienne cut requires a Parisienne scoop – a small ice cream scoop shaped piece of equipment. There are varying sizes of scoop shapes.
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 and stack the leaves in a neat little pile; next, curl them up so that the pile is nice and tight, 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 – emincer usually refers to the thin slices prepared when cutting onions.
*A big ‘thank-you’ to Chef Rudi Liebenberg and the team at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel for preparing the vegetable cuts.
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