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Test Kitchen video tips: The art of the chop

January 20, 2012 | 11:00 am

Maybe you've seen this trick already: Partially slicing through a layered vegetable (onion, leek or fennel for example) to make it easy to chop into similar-sized pieces.

If you haven't, you're not alone. This was a completely new technique to one of my new interns. Jonathan just went through his culinary school's baking and pastry program, and while he can easily rattle off tips for making a laminated dough, he never learned any formal knife skills. That changed his first week in the Test Kitchen, when he was asked to chop a bulb of fennel for a soup recipe we were testing.

This is a great technique -- indispensable in the kitchen -- for making quick work of chopping layered vegetables, and it also works well when you want to finely dice garlic and ginger.

Check out the video demo above to learn how to chop an onion, or continue reading for a photo step-by-step with a bulb of fennel:

Whole bulb of fennel:


1. Trim the vegetable (below): Remove the stalk and trim any excess roots off of a fennel bulb, leaving the root end in one piece (this will keep the layers intact).


2. Halve the bulb lengthwise (with the grain).


3. Place one half, cut side down, on your work surface and slice the half horizontally (parallel to the work surface) into slices almost to, but not through, the root end (you need to keep that end intact). Space the slices according to the size of the chop you need (1/2-inch, 1/4-inch, etc.).


4. Slice the vegetable vertically into similar-sized slices. Slice almost to, but not through, the root end, which will hold the pieces together.


5. Slice across the grain to cut each slice into pieces.


If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.


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Video credit: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times. Photos: Jonathan Wing