Trilby Beresford
Updated Jul 26, 2016 @ 10:52 am
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Credit: Open Road Films

Most of us chop and eat vegetables every day (er, hopefully?), but have you ever thought about how the way you chop them contributes to their flavor?

According to NPR and food critic Leslie Brenner, the different methods—slicing, chopping, dicing and julienning—affect the flavor of your veggie. Wait, what?!

“The cooking method is going to penetrate more finely cut vegetables more. You’re going to get more of a reaction,” she explains.

Brenner gives the example of cutting okra in half vertically and then grilling it on both sides, which gives the vegetable a charred flavor that’s enhanced by the surface area.

She notes that more finely cut vegetables will “react more with react more with other ingredients in a dish, like butter, salt or a marinade.”

These are such simple concepts, yet possibly overlooked by the average home cook (while professional chefs are taught this at the beginning of culinary school).

Pete Snaith, a cooking instructor from Culinaria Cooking School in Vienna, emphasizes that cutting also affects texture, and the way our brains register the food we’re consuming. “Something cut in squares is going to be a little bit more toothsome, with a jagged edge, and will give the impression of something rugged or tough. Your mind will think something is flavorful if it is smoother.”

Brendan Walsh from the Culinary Institute of America adds his own spin on how cutting vegetables influences our experience of them. “When we talk about cuts, we think about how that ultimately is going to make dishes that are going to have appeal. Inside a kitchen, chefs will talk about a sexy quality to flavor or texture. That is something that cuts can do. They add that sexy quality.”

Obvious moral of the story: we should all go and cook some sexy food tonight! An experiment with vegetables cut using multiple methods, perhaps?