When food is sliced into even, thin strips, it is called a julienne cut. This cut is actually rather easy to accomplish, especially with the assistance of a mandoline slicer. It can be used to make foods look stylish on the plate, and to ensure that foods will be cooked evenly and thoroughly. Learning how to julienne properly is important, and it will elevate a cook's skills.
A julienne cut may be of varying thicknesses, but it is usually square. Sometimes, vegetables are cut into very fine slivers, while in other cases, the cut may be more thick. Vegetables cut this way are sometimes said to be “frenched,” and the cut is also known as a matchstick cut, since the vegetables may be cut short so that they strongly resemble matchsticks. In general, the cut is reserved for vegetables, although some meats may be prepared this way for specialty dishes.
For food presentation, learning how to julienne is essential for cooks. When performed well, it creates an even, attractive look for spreads of vegetables such as those on a buffet line. It also ensures that foods look even, whether they are rolled up into sushi or cooked down into borscht. Since many diners prefer a simple and symmetrical look to their food, the cut is eye pleasing. It can also be used to contrast larger chunks of food, which will stand out against their uniform background.
Using a julienne cut in food preparation also ensures that food cooks evenly and all the way through. When all of the foods in a dish are the same size, they will tend to cook more uniformly, and chefs will not end up with areas of greater and lesser doneness. In addition, a mixture vegetables cooked together will all cook all the way through, since the even size is easy to heat.
When julienning by hand, a cook should select a very sharp knife. She should start by completely trimming and peeling the food that needs to be cut. If it is round, like an onion, it should be cut in half so that it will lie flat on a cutting board. The chef should start by making a series of parallel cuts that are equidistant from each other, and then flip the food on its side and repeat the process. When done, the cook will have a small pile of even strips. Cooks who are using a mandoline should select the appropriate blade and then push the trimmed and peeled food through the device.