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Techniques - Preparing Vegetables

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Preparing Vegetables

Most vegetables are suited to slow cooking, although some need longer cooking than others. Knowing how to prepare vegetables correctly saves time and is key to a successful dish.


Peeling and chopping garlic

Place each garlic clove flat on a chopping board. Place the flat of a large knife blade on top and pound it with the heel of your hand.

Discard the skin and cut off the ends of each clove. Slice the clove into slivers lengthwise, then cut across into tiny chunks. Collect the pieces into a pile and chop again for finer pieces.


Peeling and dicing onions

Cut the onion in half and peel it, leaving the root to hold the layers together. Make a few slices into the onion, but not through the root.

With the tip of your knife, slice down through the layers of onion vertically, cutting as close to the root as possible.

Cut across the vertical slices to produce an even dice. Use the root to hold the onion steady, then discard it when all the onion is diced.


Skinning and seeding tomatoes

Remove the green stem, score an “X” in the skin of each tomato at the base, then immerse it in a pan of boiling water for 20 seconds, or until the skin loosens.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomato from the pan of boiling water and place it into a bowl of ice water to cool.

When cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to peel away the loosened skin.

Cut each tomato in half and gently squeeze out the seeds over a bowl. Discard the seeds.


Roasting and peeling peppers

Using tongs, hold each pepper over an open flame to char the skin. Rotate the pepper to char it evenly.

Put the peppers into a plastic bag and seal tightly. Set the bag aside and allow the skins to loosen.

When the peppers have cooled completely, use your fingers to peel away the charred skin.

Pull off the stalk, keeping the core attached. Discard seeds and slice the flesh into strips, or roughly chop.


Coring and shredding cabbage

Hold the head of cabbage firmly on the chopping board and use a sharp knife to cut it in half, straight through the stalk end.

Cut the halves again through the stalk lengthwise and slice out the core from each quarter.

Working with each quarter at a time, place the wedge cut-side down. Cut across the cabbage to shred it finely.


Trimming greens

Discard all limp and discolored leaves. Slice each leaf along both sides of the center rib, then remove it and discard.

Working with a few leaves at a time, roll them loosely into a bunch. Cut across the roll to the desired width, making strips.


Peeling squashes

Holding the squash firmly, use a chef’s knife to cut it lengthwise in half, working from the stalk to the core.

Using a spoon, remove the seeds and fibers from each squash half and discard them.

Use a vegetable peeler or knife to remove the skin. Cut into pieces, then into chunks, or slice as required.


Rehydrating mushrooms

To rehydrate dried mushrooms, place the mushrooms—either wild or cultivated—into a bowl of hot water. Allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes.

Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid using a slotted spoon. If you plan to use the soaking liquid in your recipe, strain the liquid through a fine sieve, coffee filter, or cheesecloth to remove any sand or grit.

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