Understanding Cooking Terms Part 1

Slice, chop, dice, mince…

Add a dash, a pinch or a smidgen…

Confused by cooking terms?

In this 3 part series, we’ll summarize some common cooking terms.

Let’s begin with different ways to cut-up food.

  • Slice Slicing refers to cutting large ingredients into similarly shaped, flat pieces, such as sliced bread or sliced potato.
  • Julienne Julienne refers to cutting food into long thin strips, similar to matchsticks, such as julienned carrots.
  • Chop Chopping refers to cutting food up into smaller pieces – usually in no particular shape or size, unless specified in a recipe.
  • Dice Dicing refers to cutting food into square-shaped pieces. These pieces are usually smaller and more uniform in size than when chopping.
  • Shred Shredding refers to tearing, cutting or scraping food into strips, such as shredded cheese. This is often done using the larger holes on a food grater.
  • Grate Grating refers to cutting food into very small shreds using the smaller holes of a food grater, such as grated parmesan cheese.
  • Mince Mincing refers to cutting food up into very small pieces, similar to crumbled ground beef. This often requires the use of a food processor or blender.
  • Puree Puréeing refers to breaking food into extremely small pieces until it has a pudding-like consistency. This will require the use of a food processor or blender.

Moving on to measurements. Most measurements are self-explanatory and have corresponding tools for measuring… a cup, a tablespoon, a teaspoon…

But what exactly is a dash, a pinch or a smidgen? These types of measurements allow for flexibility depending on your personal tastes.

In general:

  • a dash is approximately 1/8 teaspoon
  • a pinch about 1/16 teaspoon
  • a smidgen is about 1/32 teaspoon
  • season to taste (often used for salt and pepper) means the amount you add is completely up to you


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