How to Chop, Dice, Julienne or Slice Fresh Peas, Part 1: Chopping July 31, 2007Posted by Sobek in Uncategorized.
Tags: Taking a joke waaay too far
I’m just leaving this one uncategorized, because we don’t have a category for taking a joke waaaaaaaay too far. But as a tribute to two comments in the recipe thread below, by Harrison and LauraW, which had me laughing harder than I’ve laughed in quite some time, I’m about to take a joke waaaaaaaay too far.
Below the jump, of course.
How to Chop, Dice, Julienne or Slice Fresh Peas
Part 1: Chopping
You will need:
One clean razor blade
A cutting board
A black magic marker
A box of Band-aids
Some people believe that chopping fresh peas is simply a matter of putting a lot of peas on a cutting board and chopping them without paying attention to the relative size of the resulting pieces, or even whether all of the peas get chopped. Such casual disregard for proper chopping procedure can result in peas that get more squished than chopped, pieces of uneven (and therefore aesthetically unpleasing) shape, and ultimately a meal that you would be ashamed to serve to, say, the Queen of Belgium, should she happen to pop in for a bite.
First, any time you want to chop something, it’s good to get to know the parts of the vegetable. Here we have a simple diagram of a pea:
You will notice that the pea consists of four distinct parts: the top, the bottom, the inside and the outside. Each part has its own culinary peculiarities that advanced chefs know how to exploit for maximum flavor and texture, but we’ll save those details for a more advanced course.
The first step is to put the pea you want to chop on the cutting board. You are now ready to make the first incision, which must be done along a hemispherical line from top to bottom:
Most peas won’t come with the dotted hemisphere line already on it, so this is where you will need your magic marker. Carefully make a dotted line from the top of the pea to the bottom. It is of critical importance that this line transect the two poles of the pea, because if you deviate from the line, you risk an uneven cut, and if the first cut is uneven, all subsequent cuts will be as well, and you will end up having to discard the pea. If you are uncomfortable with your line-drawing skills, some specialty shops sell laser-pointer devices that will put a laser line down the hemisphere so you can make your lines as precise as possible.
Figure 3 illustrates how the first cut is made with the razor blade. Again it is critical that this cut be made along the hemisphere line. If you try to cut from the sides first, then by the time you get past the half-way point, the base of the remaining, uncut pea will not be able to support the pressure of the razor blade, and you will end up crushing the bottom, resulting in uneven cuts and mushy pulp.
When slicing, remember to move the razor in a back-and-forth motion, instead of simply pushing down.
Once the initial cut is complete, separate the two hemispheres, placing the cut side down. In this manner, the based on the chopped pea will be able to withstand the pressure of subsequent cuts without losing structural integrity. The next cut is along the equator line (now that the hemispherical pea is on its side, the equator line looks like the original hemisphere line), which you will also need to draw in with your magic marker.
The pea hemisphere is now ready to be cut into two pieces. Although we separated the two hemispheres after the initial cut, we want to keep the two quarters together so that we can make six lateral cuts in the north-south direction, followed by six cuts in the east-west direction. This leaves the hemisphere chopped into an aesthetically-presentable grid pattern, featuring no jagged edges or crushed segments. Repeat the steps for the second hemisphere.
By this point, you will have accidentally cut your fingers several times with the razor blade. Do not be concerned — this is a normal part of the chopping process. If you are truly committed to your meal, you will be willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary. However, if you find yourself enjoying the cuts, you may be emo. This is a very serious condition, whereby you believe that you are hopelessly miserable because you are unattractive to the opposite sex, so you act and dress in a manner that is scientifically the least likely to actually attract anyone of the opposite sex.
Like humans, sometimes peas can be emo. I strongly recommend that you avoid using these peas in your meal.
Note that the emo pea is paler than a normal pea, its grooming habits leave a lot to be desired, and it has probably just finished listening to The Cure. If you cut this pea, it will probably thank you, but again, it is simply not worth the risk. It will probably start quoting bad poetry about how miserable it is, how all the other peas in the pod hated it, and how life is just a shattered reflection in the mirror of agonized souls, or similar garbage. If you find that you are emo, I recommend an emergency haircut and 3 hours of any music featuring Gene Krupa.
Next week: How to julienne your fresh peas.