There are several ways techniques to use while cutting. The way you use it depends upon the ingredient you are cutting, the shape you want to cut your ingredient, your knife profile as well as your personal preference
Mastering these different knife motions and learning how to use your knife is essential and the first class when attending any culinary school. As Kenji Lopez-Alt said, “cooking without learning these basic strokes, is like trying to run without knowing how to tie your shoes”.
There are plenty knife motion techniques during cuts. Below the most common and the most appropriate knife profile to use for it:
- Chop – vertical motion to the cutting board and parallel to the ingredient.
- Rock chop – the tip of the knife remains in contact with the cutting board while the rest of the blade moves vertically up and down parallel to the ingredient. This requires a curved profile gyuto knife (or other curved belly type)
- Push slice – Forward slicing motion until the knife touches the cutting board.
- Pull slice (or Back slice) – Blade touches ingredient and pulled back and down in a single stroke (the sashimi cutting motion, can also be used in 45 degrees angle in sashimi).
- Push cut (or Locomotive) – Similar to push slice but with a shorter move forward.
- Sawing cut – move back and forth like using a saw.
- Horizontal cut – moving the knife parallel to the cutting board and vertical to the ingredient (used in onions for smaller pieces cut – Mince)
- Katsuramuki – specialized cutting in Japanese and Asian kitchens and the most difficult to master. First the ingredient is cut in a cylinder. Then is held in hand and the knife is slicing it paper thin turning the ingredient around. Used for Japanese radish (daikon), cucumbers, carrots etc.
As the knife motion / cutting techniques exist for specific reasons, different types of knives exist for the same reasons. In our Knives types article we have presented the different types of Japanese knives. Depending on which is your favorite cutting motion technique and what you are usually cutting, is an important factor that will determine the best knife for you.