Friday, December 7, 2007


I think a lot of people requested potatoes, and I was thinking I would do that, but it turns out I wasn't in the mood to cut up a whole bunch of potatoes last night. I have made so many potato dishes from what I cut up i'm starting to get tired of them (and if you know me, you know I hate leftovers; many times they sit in the fridge until they need to be discarded).

So I decided to do the chiffonade of spinach!! It's kind of a fun technique with a very fluid motion. Chiffonade is a French word meaning "rags". Basically, what you're doing is turning a leafy green vegetable until fabric-like strips.

For this technique, the French chef's knife is probably the best bet, and i'll explain why later on. Take your spinach, rinse the leaves and dry them with a paper towel. They need to be very dry before you begin.

Take each leaf and hold it as shown, grab the stem with your other hand, and pull it away from your hand, peeling it away. Removing the stem is an old world techinque. The French like to remove all the undigestibles, but recently we have learned that this fiber is especially good for you. The thing is, the spinach cooks more evenly when the stem has been removed.

Next, stack them into a pile of six leaves, bigger ones on the bottom, veins all lined up.

Then, roll them into a semi-tight roll, but not so tight that they break apart.

Hold them on the cutting board with your thumb behind your fingers.

Then, keeping the knife up agaist your middle finger, slice off very small strips, always keeping the knife on the board, using a lot of motion in your wrist. This is where the French chef's knife is especially useful because it is curved toward the tip, making this considerably easier.

You don't want to chop it, you want to slice it, so start with the point of the knife down, handle up, and slide the knife forward slicing through the spinach very quickly.

The spinach make a very satisfying squeak when you cut it right.

Continue to cut the leaves, moving your fingers back in increments.

When you're finished, the spinach should remain very dry. If you have to saw at it or put too much pressure to cut it, the spinach will start to bleed and become wet.

This technique works for pretty much any leafy green vegetable. I have done basil this way, chard, maybe even kale. This is very good for salads because the dryness of the spinach will then be able to absorb a lot of moisture from your fat source (dressing). This is also really good in soups, maintaining a small size so as not to overwhelm other ingredients. I boiled some penne, added pesto, the spinach, one piece of bacon chopped up, parmesan, and seasoned to taste and had a nice derivation of pesto.


dr jss'ka said...

Come on, I still want to see the not perfect photos!!!

Crystal said...

It bothers me that it says 'former' anthropologist. You can't un-anthropologize yourself.

liza said...

and what happens when i slice off my finger and bleed all over the spinach? is that considered nutritious or do i have to wash off the blood before i use the spinach in a dish?

some of us are meant to be chefs . . . some should not be trusted with fancy cutting

Alex H. said...

dude, this is great! I'm going to try a chiffonade of basil when i need to make a salad at some point.

keep us updated!

julie said...

Personally, I think this is a perfect way to learn how to make a chiffonade of spinach. Thank you, I can hardly wait to try this method.

retired "chef" said...

Are you a chef yet? ..No. Chiffonade means to crumple ...not rags. You got that wrong. Do professional cooks a favor and yourself a favor...stay out of a professional kitchen. You won't last with mistakes as simple as that. Next time you think you know something so well you "Teach" it....get it right. You say cut it small...what is small? Use a mathematical number to define the width. Good luck trying to cook for a 30 year profession "chef". And shy are all sorts of people wanting to be called Chef? We are cooks. Stay in anthropology...but then that's how you ended up in a restaurant ...waiting tables and looking longingly at the "chefs" in their snappy chefs coats and hats. Next time get it right before you decide you know enough to teach it. No you are not a chef. A few years of underpaid(can't afford to live alone)10-11 hour days on your feet working Christmas eve, Hannukah all holidays we as Americans celebrate in a kitchen 100°F, work two positions because somebody didn't show because they were sick(hung over), have your Westhof 8" forged steel chefs knife stolen...twice. Then you can think of your self as a chef. But demonstrating incorrect and inadequate definitions proves you are not a chef. Go to a real school not a "program" be an apprentice. Learn learn learn work, work, work.