6 Basic Kitchen Skills We Wish Knew Years Ago

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Sometimes the thing stopping us from making a homemade meal isn’t the cooking time, or the grocery shopping we’d have to do after work. It’s the prep. Chopping and dicing can turn a 20-minute recipe into a 60-minute ordeal. Knife skills are one of the first things you learn in cooking school (remember this scene from Julie & Julia ?), and with good reason: Having good knife skills are a real game changer in the kitchen, because it makes a super efficient, slicing, dicing, and chopping machine. And, it's much easier than you think. Once you’ve got these basic techniques down, you’ll be able to mince and matchstick with confidence. Plus, you’ll only need 1 or 2 knives (a chef's knife and a paring knife) in your kitchen arsenal to do it!

Level VI: How To Cut Perfect Matchstick Carrots

Photography by Danny Kim; Food Styling by Lauren Gerrie.
"Julienne" might be a scary-sounding cooking term, but it just means long, thin matchstick shapes. Once you've demystified the word, learning to do it yourself really isn't so tough. This technique creates perfect little strips of veggies to add to salads, sides, and more. So, next time you're in the kitchen, impress your friends with matchstick carrots; it's easier than it sounds! You can also apply this method to other vegetables — peppers, celery, and more.

1. Cut off the top of your carrot and set aside. Then chop off the narrow bottom part.

2. With your non-chopping hand in a bear-claw shape, hold the carrot steady while you slice carrot sticks in a downward motion.

3. Then, cut down each of your carrot sticks into thinner, baby-carrot sticks. You just julienned!