This maneuver neatly reduces bumpy, bulbous, and otherwise wildly irregular vegetables into tidy strips of uniform size and shape that resemble—what else? Matchsticks.
You will need
- A chef's knife
- A cutting board
- And a vegetable to cut
Step 1 Wash & peel Wash and peel the vegetable, if necessary.
Step 2 Grasp knife Grasp the knife in your dominant hand, holding the handle close to the blade with three fingers: your middle, ring, and pinkie. Curl your forefinger around one side of the blade while holding your thumb on the opposite side.
Step 3 Hold vegetable With your non-knife-wielding hand, hold the vegetable firmly on the cutting board close to the area you will cut.
Curl your fingers so that the tips are firmly planted on the vegetable and the knuckles point outward—in the food world, this is called the “claw grip.”
Step 4 Cut off ends Cut off the ends of the vegetable.
Keep an empty bowl next to your cutting board so you can place the trimmings in there instead of running back and forth to the garbage can.
Step 5 Cut crosswise Cut the vegetable crosswise into 2-inch segments.
Step 6 Cut off sides Cut off the sides of one section. It should now resemble a block with 4 long flat surfaces—this will make it easier to cut uniform pieces.
Step 7 Slice into slabs Slice the segments lengthwise into 1/8 inch-thick slabs.
Keep the point of the knife on the board and use a steady rocking motion to slice—not saw—the vegetable with the full length of the blade.
Step 8 Stack & slice Stack the slabs on top of each other and slice them again into 1/8 inch-wide sticks. What remains should resemble a pile of… you guessed it.
The wooden matchstick industry was a powerful political presence in 19th-century Europe, before the advent of electricity.