Visual Rhythm: Japanese vegetable knife skills
• Knives: Selecting, sharpening, and safety
• Cutting: How to achieve common cuts and invent new ones
• Vegetable Shapes: Understanding the appropriate cut in respect for the shape of the vegetable and the cooking method
One of the things I love about cooking and teaching cooking skills is to carry my dance experience into the kitchen. From first picking up a knife, students feel how it is connected to their body and how it moves through the vegetables without a sound, in silence.
The relationships of knife to chef, knife to board, and knife to the shape of the whole vegetable is what we study. It’s about these angles in relationship to each other, adding the motion of the knife, front to back, back to front, and how they all coordinate with the mind of the chef.
The final look of the cut vegetable is rhythmical, visually.
One type of knife can be used for almost everything. It’s a Japanese style vegetable knife formulated from three kinds of steel. The blades are wide and long, becoming an extension of the forearm.
Because we are cooking within the concept of wholeness, the idea of casting aside rounded edges to produce an evenly measured diced vegetable look, is unconscionably wrong for everyday cooking. Just because a carrot at one end is tapered small and at the other end is tapered large, there is no need to discard parts of the whole. Instead, look for finished cuts that give a sense of visual rhythm that suits the original vegetable—restful on the eye and energetically whole.