Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Fat Guy

Celery dicing technique

Recommended Posts

I've been dicing celery more often lately than in the past, and I'm realizing that it's a time-consuming and tedious process. Anybody have any technique/efficiency pointers? I'm trying to achieve a small dice.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you looking for a classic version with all of the stringy portion of the celery removed? If so, a mandolin may be helpful in making the initial cuts on the top and bottom of the stalk (horizontally) to remove the stringy parts. But, that's only if the mandolin is easy to set up and you are dicing a lot of celery. Other than that, it's (in my experience) a knife skills speed test.

You can also try using a peeler, larger, flatter stalks will be ok this way. Just take care to peel away from yourself and avoid injury. I like my ceramic peelers because they easily take on hard-to-peel items like this. That said, I am quicker with my knife, so...

Remember that any time you will be straining the final product, you can leave the string part in and just slice the celery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have my own self-taught celery-dicing method that goes pretty darned fast, if I do say so myself.

1. I trim the stalks, and cut them crosswise into easier-to handle lengths (4 or 5 inches).

2. I flip a chunk of stalk concave-side up, and run the tip of a small sharp knife lengthwise down the interior multiple times, slicing it into the narrowest julienne strips I can manage.

3. Then I just bunch up the julienne and slice them crosswise into tiny dice.

4. Repeat until all the chunks are chopped.

I don't bother with removing the strings, as they've never bothered me, but there's no reason you couldn't do so before taking this approach.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's pretty much the way I do it, too, though I usually only bother with three or four long slices per piece, depending on how wide the celery is and how finicky the finished product needs to be.

On the other hand -- even though they aren't a dice of any sort -- don't discount the visual appeal of chevrons.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been dicing celery more often lately than in the past, and I'm realizing that it's a time-consuming and tedious process.

Yup, it's irregularly shaped and a bit of a pain.

Do you need it to look nice, or do you just want it chopped quite small? we actually used a meat grinder attachment where I worked in Italy. But a home food processor or grater would do the same. (Yeah, it's probably a bit more watery. do you think it matters for your application?)

For me, at home, I just use a knife. I'm not doing big quantities, so it's probably at least as fast as the food processor once cleanup time is factored in. (And, I actually like doing this sort of prep).

Or, check out one of the plethora of knife skills books that have surfaced in the past three or so years. One was by one of us (an egulleter).

But really, either go the machine route, or practice a bit with the knife. Basically I start by chopping the stalk into manageable lengths ( a couple inches). then dividing those lengthwise (depends on the width of the stalk at that point. If it needs to be divided into fourths say, I cut it down the middle, and then do the same to both halves. For sixths, I angle the knife to take a third off and divide that in half, and then take the other piece and cut it lengthwise in half, then each of those pieces in half again). And then take those lengths (as much as you can handle) and dice away. Keep your thumb outta harms way!

I used to hate dicing celery. Just took a bit of practice.

Oh, use the leaves too. They taste good.

Cheers,

Geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember that any time you will be straining the final product, you can leave the string part in and just slice the celery.

Knife skill, knife skill, knife skill.

as for the quote above, you could just juice it.


after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying to produce a quantity of diced celery primarily for mixing in salads (tuna salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, etc.) for crunch. I'm finding that, lately, I'm making a lot more of these dishes. So far, the advice to subdivide the stalks into shorter lengths seems like the best contribution to improved technique. Right now my procedure is to try to split the whole long stalk several times lengthwise, which is an inconsistent process. I think of subdividing as making more work but it probably makes less and improves results. I'll give it a whirl.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying to produce a quantity of diced celery primarily for mixing in salads (tuna salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, etc.) for crunch. I'm finding that, lately, I'm making a lot more of these dishes. So far, the advice to subdivide the stalks into shorter lengths seems like the best contribution to improved technique. Right now my procedure is to try to split the whole long stalk several times lengthwise, which is an inconsistent process. I think of subdividing as making more work but it probably makes less and improves results. I'll give it a whirl.

I do it the same way as previously mentioned; cut the stalks into smaller length segments, split those in half lengthwise, repeat (depending on stalk width)and then chop. Part of the issue is in what you are trying to achieve; whether you want a small dice (1/4x1/4/1/4) or brunoise (1/8x1/8x1/8)or whether you are using just finely chopped or minced in which case the uniformity is not that important.


-Doc

"Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on." ~George Bernard Shaw

My link

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not concerned about uniformity in the culinary-school/chef-instructor sense, however I am trying to achieve a small dice where there are no wildly outsize chunks. So the pieces can have an irregular shape no problem, but they all have to be small.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not concerned about uniformity in the culinary-school/chef-instructor sense, however I am trying to achieve a small dice where there are no wildly outsize chunks. So the pieces can have an irregular shape no problem, but they all have to be small.

In that case I found that the method above is fastest, 4-5 inch length, slice lebgthwise to get thin sticks and chop across. I just got a new global chef's knife so I've been having a blast chopping-sorry we're not neighbors or I'd do the celery for ya!


-Doc

"Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on." ~George Bernard Shaw

My link

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dude,

The Slap Chop

Bing Bang Boom. Done. :laugh:

I use mine all the time. Makes chopping veggies for the salad easy peasy.


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you trying to do a formal, Frenchie-style dice? Perfect little cubes? If so, then good luck!

If you're willing to be more liberal and have irregular shapes at roughly the same size, then any of these suggestions (besides ... um ... the slap chop) will work fine.

The trick is do a lot at once. After you cut the strips, you can stack them and also lay several side by side. A big knife helps ... at least 10".

You should be able to do a few lbs in a few minutes, not counting washing and the initial trimming.


Notes from the underbelly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dude,

The Slap Chop

Bing Bang Boom. Done. :laugh:

I use mine all the time. Makes chopping veggies for the salad easy peasy.

Hey, it sells itself!

:cool:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dude,

The Slap Chop

Bing Bang Boom. Done. :laugh:

I use mine all the time. Makes chopping veggies for the salad easy peasy.

I have a Pampered Chef version of the Slap Chop. I use it whenever I need a quantity that would be a pain to cut by hand, but not enough to warrant taking out the food processor and cleaning afterwards.

The problem I have with the chopper, is that it is not uniform in it's cutting. I primarily use it if I am cooking the veggies. It works great for a mirepoix, or as is more often the case with me, the cajun trinity. If I am concerned even a little about presentation (e.g. in a salad), I reach for a knife.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those things don't CUT food. They crush and tear it into odd-sized and odd-shaped pieces. They are implements of destruction, not cutting tools.


Notes from the underbelly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not concerned about uniformity in the culinary-school/chef-instructor sense, however I am trying to achieve a small dice where there are no wildly outsize chunks. So the pieces can have an irregular shape no problem, but they all have to be small.

In that case I found that the method above is fastest, 4-5 inch length, slice lebgthwise to get thin sticks and chop across. I just got a new global chef's knife so I've been having a blast chopping-sorry we're not neighbors or I'd do the celery for ya!

My husband and I took a knife skills class recently. It was pretty elementary and I didn't leard as much as I was hoping to but I did have the opportunity to try the instructor's Global chef;s knife. I LOVED it. Loved the weight of it, the way it felt in my hand and how it worked. My standard knife is a MAC chef's knife (don't know which off the top of my head) and I love it. I had never held or used another knife that I like nearly as much as my MAC until I used that global. I have wanted another good knife for a while and it's going to be that Global, for Christmas I hope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not concerned about uniformity in the culinary-school/chef-instructor sense, however I am trying to achieve a small dice where there are no wildly outsize chunks. So the pieces can have an irregular shape no problem, but they all have to be small.

In that case I found that the method above is fastest, 4-5 inch length, slice lebgthwise to get thin sticks and chop across. I just got a new global chef's knife so I've been having a blast chopping-sorry we're not neighbors or I'd do the celery for ya!

My husband and I took a knife skills class recently. It was pretty elementary and I didn't leard as much as I was hoping to but I did have the opportunity to try the instructor's Global chef;s knife. I LOVED it. Loved the weight of it, the way it felt in my hand and how it worked. My standard knife is a MAC chef's knife (don't know which off the top of my head) and I love it. I had never held or used another knife that I like nearly as much as my MAC until I used that global. I have wanted another good knife for a while and it's going to be that Global, for Christmas I hope.

I got a new global 10in Chef's knife and absolutely love it. If you get this one I do not think you'll be disappointed.

global.jpg


-Doc

"Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on." ~George Bernard Shaw

My link

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dicing celery to a small dice is incredibly easy and fast.

Remove the leafy tops and dirty bottoms.

Peel the stringy bits if you desire.

Lay on the board in it's natural arc-like state.

Holding the knife at an angle (about 45 degrees), cut a 1/4" strip off of the right side.

Do the same on the other side, with the knife angled in the opposite direction.

Split the remaining bit in half.

You should have 4 lengths of celery that are about 1/4" across.

Dice.

edited for clarity


Edited by BKYLN (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't necessarily go by 4-5" lengths. I usually evaluate every stalk. Some have wide, flared bottoms and narrow tops. I portion accordingly.

Also, I square it off so that no dice is larger than my intended size. The smaller and less attractive cuts get hidden in the mass of better looking cuts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great Balls of stalks! Jeezo Pete! You're asking about chopping celery? Time consuming and tedious? I should be so lucky.

Long slices up the stalk and short slices across. For tuna salad or the trinity it takes one minute and a half.

(Go think about sustainable fishing or World Peace! :laugh: )


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dude,

The Slap Chop

Bing Bang Boom. Done. :laugh:

I use mine all the time. Makes chopping veggies for the salad easy peasy.

I have a Pampered Chef version of the Slap Chop. I use it whenever I need a quantity that would be a pain to cut by hand, but not enough to warrant taking out the food processor and cleaning afterwards.

The problem I have with the chopper, is that it is not uniform in it's cutting. I primarily use it if I am cooking the veggies. It works great for a mirepoix, or as is more often the case with me, the cajun trinity. If I am concerned even a little about presentation (e.g. in a salad), I reach for a knife.

I don't need uniformity of a dice when making a salad for myself. It's just me, afterall. I'm easy to please that way. :wink:

edited to add: I do have knife skills thanks to the eGCI knife skills course and a class I took at a local kitchen store. But I choose to use the Slap Chop because it's quick and the end results are satisfactory for my needs.


Edited by Toliver (log)

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I've been doing it this way. Trim top and bottoms and cut into ~4" sections. Turn sections on board concave down. Run knife horizontally to cut off the "legs" or edges leaving me with the middle part which is then cut into strips or julienne. These strips should be the size of what I will call the "legs" or edges for lack of a better description. If looking to do a brunoise then I'll cut the legs/edges to size and follow with the middle section then dice to a brunoise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a thing like the slap job a long time ago, it's been around for quit a while. It did cut though, the blade was very sharp. Eventually the clear plastic ring that held it all together broke and I never got a new one, as I love cutting, dicing, chopping, slicing, one of my most favorite parts of cooking.

If that were not the case though, I'd not hesitate to buy an other such tool, though I'd probably not go with the Slap thing because I can't stand that sales guy. :laugh:


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...