One of the most common cooking questions I receive? How do I properly chop an onion, garlic, a tomato, or a bell pepper? Well, yes, of course, you hold a (preferably quite sharp) knife and apply downward pressure until the ingredient breaks into two pieces, and then you repeat until you have as many pieces as desired.
But, did you know there's actually a little strategy behind chopping? That how you slice and dice actually affects how your food tastes? For example, sliced garlic tastes different than minced garlic because when it's sliced, there's more surface area to caramelize. Plus, knowing the right technique just makes chopping so much easier.
So here's a little bell pepper chopping 101 (a trick I learned from my days at Le Cordon Bleu Paris):
Step 1: Turn the pepper on its side and slice off the top and bottom (reserve for chef consumption).
Step 2: Stand the pepper on its (now flat) bottom, and slice from top to bottom along a section of the white membrane.
Step 3: Lay the pepper back on its side and gently open up (ideally it stays in one piece). With the knife parallel to your cutting board, slice the membrane from the pepper's flesh. (You should now have one rectangular piece of pepper with no membrane or seeds remaining).
Step 4: Slice the pepper into thin, uniform strips.
Step 5: Grab the pile of strips and rotate pile 90 degrees, then dice into uniform squares.
Step 6: Voila!
Don't forget: A sharp knife is critical to chopping with ease (And a dull knife is actually much more dangerous!). My chef's knife is one of my favorite kitchen tools, but until I had one I didn't know what I was missing. If you haven't invested in a knife set, start with a chef's knife and perhaps a paring knife. And if you do own good knives, professionally sharpen them a few times a year (I take mine to the local butcher).
What else do you have trouble chopping? Let me know in the comments below!