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Peeling a cucumber with a knife


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#1 Fat Guy

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:59 PM

I was at a sushi bar a few years ago and noticed that, during their down-time, some of the sushi chefs were peeling cucumbers. They weren't using a swivel-bladed parer the way most people do. They were just using their knives. It seemed much more efficient, but I just assumed it required a formidable skill set. I filed the information away and went on with my life.

Not too long ago, I found myself in a situation where I needed to peel a cucumber but both of my swivel-bladed parers were in the dishwasher -- and it was running. So, I took a knife and made an attempt at peeling the cucumber. Well, I'll be darned if, on the first try, I didn't do a pretty good job. By the fifth cucumber, I was getting pretty good at it. Then I ran out of cucumbers, and kind of made myself sick by eating too many that day.

Now I've done probably 30 or so cucumbers, and I have it down. I'm more efficient with the knife than with the dedicated peeling device. And when people are over, if I just casually start peeling a cucumber with a knife, they think it's kind of cool.

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#2 shellfishfiend

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 05:25 PM

I have heard of sushi chefs doing this. I heard that after they remove the peel, they continue around the cucumber to use the sheets of cucumber as wrappings for rolls (instead of nori).

I use a knife to peel cucumbers, but just take the peel off in long strips—like you would with a peeler. What method do you use?
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#3 Dejah

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 05:54 PM

Interesting that this topic should come up today. My Korean students were giving a demo on making kimbap. They also used a knife to peel the cucumbers.

Now, Fat Guy, do you peel the whole cucumber or segments?

These ladies used my chef's knife, and used a slight sawing motion as they moved around the whole cucumber lengthways. These were slicing cukes, about 8" long with the ends trimmed. They also "sliced" the cukes this way before they cut them into thin strips for the kimbap.

I can work with 4 - 5" English cuke segments, but worry about slicing off my thumb.
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#4 oneidaone

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:04 PM

I try to use a knife but it doesn't work so well for me. I have 3 peelers so usually at least one
is clean. I must practice! I usually get flesh with the skin and it's sort of a waste. As I type a
chameleon just snagged a bug from the orchid outside and I doubt he has such considerations! :laugh:
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#5 Dave the Cook

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:17 PM

Steven, please explain how you are measuring efficiency.

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#6 Fat Guy

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:28 PM

I have heard of sushi chefs doing this. I heard that after they remove the peel, they continue around the cucumber to use the sheets of cucumber as wrappings for rolls (instead of nori).

I use a knife to peel cucumbers, but just take the peel off in long strips—like you would with a peeler. What method do you use?

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I can't do the sheets -- I lack the coordination, and I don't have the sashimi knife you need in order to make that work. I peel strips, exactly as you would with a peeler.

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#7 Fat Guy

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:29 PM

Now, Fat Guy, do you peel the whole cucumber or segments?

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I cut a little off the ends, then stand the cucumber up and peel it whole.

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#8 Fat Guy

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:33 PM

Steven, please explain how you are measuring efficiency.

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I'm talking about time. It's a little quicker for me in absolute terms, plus it's one less tool to get out, wash and replace. (I find that swivel-bladed parers are really fast for peeling carrots because you can flick-flick-flick to peel carrots, but for cucumbers you have to slow way down to peel the individual strips.) In terms of waste, at this point I'm probably wasting more with the knife than with a peeler, however that's going to change eventually.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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#9 Holly Moore

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:34 PM

Use a knife?

Then I would have no use for my 12 gauge, stainless steel, Master Cook, ever-sharp cucumber peeler and seeder.
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#10 Marlene

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:38 PM

I rarely use a peeler for anything other than taking strips off citrus for recipes. Mind you, I use a paring knife rather than a chef's knife to peel potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes, but I've been doing it for years.

edited to add. I do use a peeler for carrots for some reason though. :biggrin:

Edited by Marlene, 07 February 2007 - 06:39 PM.

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#11 -sheila mooney

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 06:54 PM

Not too long ago, I found myself in a situation where I needed to peel a cucumber but both of my swivel-bladed parers were in the dishwasher --

you put your swivel-bladed parers in the dishwasher??? anathema! and worse, rust! no?

#12 Fat Guy

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 07:35 PM

They have carbon blades. The packaging said they were dishwasher safe, and they appear to be.

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#13 maggiethecat

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 07:55 PM

Here's the 6 oz. gorilla in the room: why have you peeled 30 cukes recently? I confess to being underwhelmed by cucumbers, and like the peel best. I leave it on, but score it lengthwise with a tiny French goudge bought years ago meant to be a mushroon fluter or lemon zester. (The slices look like little flowers.)

Should I ever feel the need to peel the green peter, I'll do a head-to-head swivel peeler/knife competition, I promise. But I really want to know when cucumbers should be peeled.

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#14 Dave the Cook

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:09 PM

Steven, please explain how you are measuring efficiency.

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I'm talking about time. It's a little quicker for me in absolute terms, plus it's one less tool to get out, wash and replace. (I find that swivel-bladed parers are really fast for peeling carrots because you can flick-flick-flick to peel carrots, but for cucumbers you have to slow way down to peel the individual strips.) In terms of waste, at this point I'm probably wasting more with the knife than with a peeler, however that's going to change eventually.

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But you don't wash your peeler. You drop it in the dishwasher basket.

If you're doing the flick-flick-flick number on carrots, you're less than agile with a very useful tool. It seems to me that if you took half the time that you're spending getting your chef's knife to do something that it's not designed to do and worked with your peeler instead, you'd gain both superior peeling results and more time -- not to mention more usable food.

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#15 snowangel

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:11 PM

I'm supposed to peel cukes?
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#16 JAZ

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:11 PM

But I really want to know when cucumbers should be peeled.

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Depends on the cucumber. If you get the kind that are covered in wax, then it's much easier to peel than to try to get the wax off. Plus, I think that type of cucumber (even without the wax) has a much tougher, more bitter peel. The "English" cucumbers (which in my experience come wrapped in plastic with no wax) are fine without peeling.

But back to the question at hand, I find that a serrated swivel peeler like this one is by far the best tool for the job -- it cuts through the wax without slipping, gets only the peel with virtually no flesh, and is much faster than a knife.

#17 Pam R

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:13 PM

I use a knife, unless I'm peeling carrots at the same time. I don't think there's any more waste using a knife (paring, not chef) rather than a peeler.

#18 C. sapidus

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:14 PM

But I really want to know when cucumbers should be peeled.

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We peel cukes before making one of the many Asian cucumber salads. Typically, the cucumbers would be peeled, seeded, and sliced thinly or julienned. Thirty cukes would make an awful lot of cucumber salad, though. :hmmm:

#19 maggiethecat

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:31 PM

But you don't wash your peeler. You drop it in the dishwasher basket.

If you're doing the flick-flick-flick number on carrots, you're less than agile with a very useful tool. It seems to me that if you took half the time that you're spending getting your chef's knife to do something that it's not designed to do and worked with your peeler instead, you'd gain both superior peeling results and more time -- not to mention more usable food.

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What kinda peeler we talkin' here Steven, the harp style or the basic swivel? I use only the harp style and they peel everything better than the basic swivel: asparagus, carrots, potatoes and if I might project, cucumbers. Two bucks at Ikea and you could remove, very neatly, your epidermis.

Janet, I'm lucky that I don't need to buy waxed cukes, with all the ethnic supermarkets around frequented by people who want plain cukes. And c.: I understand about the Asain salad thing, but I truly believe they would profit by using unwaxed, unpeeled cucumbers.

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#20 C. sapidus

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 08:37 PM

And c.: I understand about the Asain salad thing, but I truly believe they would profit by using unwaxed, unpeeled cucumbers.

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You could be right - I'll give it a try next time.

#21 SheenaGreena

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 10:05 PM

I think a lot of asians peel their veggies and fruits with a pairing knife or larger knife. I have never seen my mother use a vegetable peeler in my life.

that woman can peel a huge korean pear in less than one minute without wasting any of the flesh. Also, it always comes off in one peel.


eta: does anyone else not peel their carrots? I just scrub them and use them as is. I can't be bothered with peeling them (i'm very lazy).

Edited by SheenaGreena, 07 February 2007 - 10:07 PM.

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#22 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 10:10 PM

I too don't peel my cukes but I leave the peel on because I like the taste of it.
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#23 SheenaGreena

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 10:13 PM

count me in as another cuke skin lover (sounds dirty, doesn't it?).
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#24 snowangel

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 10:35 PM

Come to think of it, Maggie's right about the cukes and where at least the two of us get them. Asian markets don't carry waxed ones. Nor do the farmer's market (although the farmer's market is not operating this time of year here!).
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#25 scubadoo97

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 11:28 AM

I usually leave the skin on cucumbers but If you peel with a knife it has to be really sharp. I've seen Japanese chefs peel the cucumbers and potatoes not top to bottom but around the circumference. It does take some very good knife skills and is not for everyone.

#26 Shalmanese

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 11:38 AM

Why would you use a dishwasher to clean a peeler? I always just give it a rinse in a good stream of water and flick it a few times to dry and it's back in the drawer. Seems like loading and unloading it from the dishwasher is actually more work and if you ever need to use it between dishwashing cycles, then you have to clean it by hand anyway.

The key is to clean it as soon as you finish using it so theres no time for dried on crud to accumulate.
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#27 annecros

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 11:53 AM

I only take my peeler out on carrots, and potatoes when hubby isn't around to do his magic with a paring knife.

I only peel waxed cukes, VERY sharp paring knife, lop of the ends, one long strip lengthwise then I rotate the cuke in my left (non dominant) hand for the next strip. Tiny bit of cleanup and a final rinse.

Fast, very little waste.

#28 pigeonpie

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 12:53 PM

Cucumbers covered in wax? That I've never seen. On this side of the pond they either come plastic-wrapped (in supermarkets) or 'naked', in grocers, turkish/asian shops, markets etc.

Never peel my cukes, never peel my carrots - a good scrub, particularly the carrots to get the mud off, and slice away.

Peeling butternut squash, however - for that I definitely use a knife ...
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#29 santo_grace

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 01:32 PM

Growing up we didn't have a peeler in the house. My mother never used one, even though it drove my father crazy. He thought she wasted too much of the flesh by using the knife. Guess he should have done the cooking then. I didn't have a peeler until I started dating my husband. Now I prefer the peeler for carrots and usually still use the knife for the cukes. The only time I use the peeler for the cucumbers is if I just peeled a carrot, and it's already out.

Also, I don't know what kind I have, but it goes in the dishwasher as well.
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#30 onehsancare

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 01:56 PM

My guess is that most of the answers above could read: I do it this way because my mother did!

:raz:

(Well, that was my theory before santo_grace posted!)
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