Cutting skills for Chinese cooking: how to slice, to make julienne, to dice, to mince, to cut parallel, and to roll.
To slice, tip the cutting knife up on an angle, to use the far end (away from you) of the blade. While holding the food and the cutting knife firmly, cut straight down. At the end of the slice, move the left (guiding) hand sideways according to the width of cut desired. Slide the cutting knife back up to the start position. Using the knuckles of your free hand as a guide, shift the ingredient under the cutting knife. Then repeat the steps to cut more slices.
Usual slices are about 1/8" thick or less.
Tip: DO NOT lift the knife edge above the knuckles! This prevents you from accidentally cutting your knuckles.
True julienne is about matchstick size. For a coarser cut, stack three or four slices high and slice down through them, at the same width (to make a fine square section). For matchstick julienne, start with 1/8-inch slices, and cut them into sticks. To shred food into fine slivers, begin by cutting paper-thin slices, then cut across them in the same way to create thin strip.
Dice should be regular and all the same size. Depending on how precise the dice need to be, the ingredient is usually first cut into even strips or julienne and then the strips or julienne are sliced.
Dice can even be divided further into two terms: Brunoise is a very fine dice, slightly smaller than 1/8 inch, while Macedoine is a slightly larger dice, usually a little smaller than 1/4 inch.
Mince, in culinary terms, means to cut or chop into small pieces. To mince, start by cutting the ingredient into thin strips, then dice the strips. Hold the handle of the cutting knife in one hand and, with the other, hold down the tip of the blunt edge of the blade. Using the tip as a pivot, raise and lower the blade in a chopping motion, moving it from side to side to mince everything evenly. Scoop up minced ingredients occasionally, flip them over, and keep chopping to ensure even mincing.
Parallel cutting is used to cut broad, thin slices of meat or vegetables. Lay the food close to the edge of the board with the fingers of your free hand flat on top of it. Angle the cutting knife so that it's almost parallel to the board, slanting slightly downward. Move it slowly and carefully back and forth to slice the food, paying close attention to avoid cutting your fingers.
This technique is used for long vegetables, like carrots or cucumber. It makes attractive pieces and exposes more of the surface area of the vegetable. Hold the blade perpendicular to the board and cut straight down diagonally. Then roll the vegetable a quarter-turn, and cut straight down again at the same diagonal angle. Continue rolling and cutting in this way all along the length of the vegetable.