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Knife Skills - Glossary

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Where acid is added, usually lemon juice (or white wine vinegar) to water.


Distribution of weight down the length of a knife, from handle to tip.

Beurre Nantaise

Rich, “white butter” sauce, flavored with finely chopped shallots and reduced white wine vinegar, originally served with fish in the Nantes area of France.


(as on a single-bevel blade) Obliquely angled cutting edge, sharpened only from one side. Double-beveled blades are also available.


Sea or freshwater mollusk that has a hinged, two-part shell.


To dip food quickly into boiling water; to cook or precook, depending on the ingredient.


Meat from the breast of an animal.


Alloy of copper and tin.

brown sauce

Deep brown, glossy gravy, made with reduced meat stock, bones, and meat trimmings, and sweetened by a little chopped onion, carrot, celery, mushroom, and tomato.


Fine dice, e.g., of carrots, turnips, or zucchini, that are cubes of exactly 1/8in (4mm).


Rough ridge left on the cutting edge of a blade after sharpening.


To cut an ingredient, e.g., leg of lamb or large prawn, so it opens out like butterfly wings.


Loin of lamb, similar to loin or sirloin of beef.

carbon steel

Alloy of steel and carbon; in knife blades, takes a very thin cutting edge that is easy to sharpen, but wears down quickly.


Attachment for mandolin; protective casing that carries ingredient over the blades.


Firm but elastic tissue, blue-white in color, found in the carcasses of young animals, and in the ends of the bones in mature animals.


Disc of greaseproof paper placed over braising, or poaching, ingredients, to keep them below the surface of the cooking liquid.


To cut cooked meat, poultry, or game into small portions or slices, from off the bone, using a slicing knife and meat fork.

carving knife

A straight-edged, long, fine slicing knife: either 7in (18cm) or 101/2in (26cm) long blade.


Strongly flavored mushroom; edible boletus with a firm, bulbous stalk, highly prized in gastronomy.


(as in knife blade) Thickness of the blade that tapers from the spine to the fine cutting edge.


Thin, fine ribbons of a soft-leaved vegetable, e.g., lettuce.


Backbone; sometimes used as a verb e.g., to chine (cut away the backbone).


Cut of beef from the forequarter, toward the neck, including part of the shoulder.

connective tissue

Tissue that connects, surrounds, and supports muscles and organs in the carcass.


Colloquial name given to lobster eggs, which turn a coral hue, when cooked.


(as in blade) Central, sharp, brittle blade, found in Japanese kasumi knives; it is supported by Damascene, or similar, steel in layers (some high-carbon, some low-carbon) to give the blade extra strength.


Type of lettuce; long and oval in shape with sweet, crisp leaves.


Clear, aromatic broth used mainly for the cooking of fish and shellfish.


Crisp pieces of bread or savory pastry, often with a savory or sweet topping.


Small, flat pastry case or toasted slice of bread; often with a savory or sweet topping.


Mainly aquatic animal with a hard, close-fitting shell.

cutting edge

Fine part of the knife blade that is honed, sharpened, and used for cutting.


White radish that can grow up to 36in (1m) in length; also called a mooli and widely cultivated in East Asia. It is cut into fine strips, eaten raw with fish, or pickled.

Damascene effect

The decorative patina on a polished knife blade, created by laminating the steel on to the core at differing angles; see also kasuminagashi .

deba hocho

Slightly heavy Japanese knife, used for chopping and filleting; also known as a cleaver.


Basic preparation that consists of finely chopped mushrooms, onions, and shallots, softened in butter.


Thin slice of white meat, usually from chicken or veal, but can be from large fish, e.g., salmon.


Tender, boneless, long strip of meat or fish, or cut of beef taken from the backbone from the ribs to the loin—the most expensive part of the carcass.

forged knife

Knife shaped from a single strip of metal by heating and hammering in a furnace.

French cut of best end

Ribs of lamb with the rib fillet attached (rack of lamb); also called carré d’agneau.


Type of lettuce with a bitter flavor and frilly leaf; sometimes called chicory.


Glossy icing, e.g., for a cake.


The weight of a knife, judged by lifting.

high-carbon stainless steel

Blend of iron, carbon, chromium, and other metals, e.g., molybdenum, in a ratio making a stainless, resilient metal.


Japanese true-forged knives, made entirely of high-carbon steel.


Knife blade made from two materials: high-carbon steel (the core) and soft iron, forged together like Samurai swords. The steel provides the cutting edge and the iron forms the spine and cheeks of the blade.


Meaning “floating mist”; decorative, shimmering effect on a laminated blade; see also Damascene effect.

laminated steel

Steel strengthened and hardened by hammering it in layers parallel to the core.


Short band of tough, flexible, and fibrous tissue binding two parts of the carcass together.


Aromatic liquid, cooked or uncooked, in which ingredients are steeped; it enhances flavor, tenderizes, or prolongs the life of meat, fish, poultry, and seafood.

milles feuilles

Sweet or savory item of puff pastry, often with a creamy filling; the name, “thousand leaves,” refers to the flaky layers.


Mixture of diced vegetables, including carrot, onion, and celery, usually used in the preparation of sauces.

muscle bundle

Long, thin cells (fibers) bound together by sheets of connective tissue and organized in groups to form muscles.

pain bagna

French baguette filled with ingredients including lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and olive oil; from the Nice region of France.

pâté en croûte

Mix of spiced, minced, marinaded, and seasoned meats or poultry, baked in a pastry enriched with eggs. A meat stock is added through holes in the cooled crust and forms a jelly (aspic).

pâte sablée

French sweet flan pastry, with a sandy, crisp texture; tends to be sticky and break easily.

pâte sucrée

Sweet French flan pastry, fairly firm and made in a similar way to shortcrust pastry.


Part of a bird’s wing that includes the longest, strongest flight feathers.


Egg mass found in fish, or reproductive organs in scallops and other seafood.


Savory or sweet preparation, made in a similar way to a Swiss roll and then sliced.


Backbone of lamb, between the ribs and the chump (pelvis); it contains the tiny fillet and loin (cannon) on both sides.


Japanese delicacy, that consists of very fresh, raw fish and seafood, sliced into thin pieces about 1in (2.5cm) wide, 13/4in (4cm) long, and 2in (5cm) thick.


Soft, long fibers on sweetcorn cob; styles of a female flower.


Mushroom with dark cap and strong, meaty flavor; traditionally grown in Japan. Known as Chinese mushroom when dried.


To flatten a whole small bird or tender poultry by removing the backbone and pinning into shape with skewers, in order to grill or barbecue it.

stainless steel

Alloy formed when chromium is added to carbon steel, to inhibit rusting.


Breastbone; long, thin vertical bone that is attached to some of the ribs.


Speciality of Japanese cuisine, consisting of small portions of vinegared rice, with thin slices of raw or cooked fish, and vegetables.

tako hiki

“Octopus puller,” a long, thin Japanese knife, used for slicing medium-sized fish and octopus, for sashimi. The blade can be pointed, but often is rectangular.


Fat or liver of the North American lobster; becomes green when cooked.


Top of hind leg of beef, above the shin; usually tough meat.


To make vegetable balls, about 2in (5cm) long, with seven faces; also known as tourner.

tunnel bone

To remove the bone from a joint or carcass without piercing the skin, by creating a “tunnel.”


Usually a cold sauce, made from olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to which flavorings and aromatics can be added; used as a dressing for salads, fish, or white meat.

yanagi ba

“Willow blade,” a long, thin Japanese knife with a pointed blade; used for preparing medium-sized raw fish for sashimi.

zirconium oxide

White, crystalline oxide of zirconium, that is used in ceramic knife blades. It does not corrode or stain, is extremely strong but brittle, and maintains a particularly sharp cutting edge.

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