If you’re a chef looking for a particular kind of knife, one big factor of your selection is how you like to use your knife. Some chefs prefer to slice things, while others prefer chopping. The purpose of either cut is the same, to cut a narrow piece off of a larger one, but the way it is done is very different.
Let’s say you want to chop an onion. First, cut a section of it so that it can rest flat on the cutting board surface. Hold the onion with your non-knife hand, keeping your fingertips away. Bring the knife near the hand holding the onion and rest the side of the blade against your knuckles. The entire blade is off the board.
Your knuckles are going to serve as a guide to how much you will chop off the onion with each stroke. Press the knife down and slightly forward to chop, then bring the knife back up. That’s chopping.
Slicing is very similar to chopping, but with important differences. The food and the hand holding the food are done in the same way, but the way the knife moves is different. In slicing, the tip of the knife rests against the cutting board and the side of the blade rests against your knuckles. Pull the blade backward keeping the tip on the board until the blade slices partially into the food. Then press down and forward using the full length of the blade until your slice is complete. Repeat the action while keeping the tip of the knife on the board at all times. The knife will make a circular motion.
Chopping is more seen with Asian forms of cooking, where their style of knives is more suited to lifting and dropping. Slicing is what you probably learned in cooking school. Either technique gives you the same result, but which one do you prefer? Let us know!