Minced onion, diced carrots, chopped parsley… WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!?!?!
After doing a bit of research on the web, I was able to find the words to get this all out. Having been a bit of a “foodie” for some time now, I knew the differences between all these techniques. But knowing them and being able to articulate them is two different things. Kinda like someone who just listens to a stereo system would say, “Hey, my speakers are making this buzzy noise. Can you fix it?” versus the audiophile who goes, “Hey, my speakers are buzzing. Perhaps they aren’t shielded from a power source or one of my components aren’t grounded correctly.”
Big difference, huh?
So I am going to try to explain, with the help of the internet and, in no small part Ehow.com, the differences between chopping, mincing, and dicing.
When it comes to chopping, there are no rules except for bite-sized. Think large, leafy greens and veggies. The chopping does not have to be uniform and is best used when you want your ingredients to retain some of their character but still want to get some flavor out.
Think roasted veggies. Lots and lots of delicious, delicious roasted veggies. Om nom nom!
Dicing is just that. Think Picasso meets plate. Dicing is for small, evenly cut pieces. This is useful especially when you want to get timing down to a science. Foods that are cut evenly will cook evenly and that’s important. Also, the smaller the dice cut is, the easier it is to heat the food and the faster it will get done. Clinically, you are looking for 1/8 to 1/4 inch in size. Since we’re not into hard and fast rules, let’s just say that you’re looking for the food to give up most of itself in flavor but retain some texture.
Mincing is a different animal altogether. Take your food and chop it. Good. Now chop it some more. Excellent! Now chop it some more. In fact, put it all in a pile and then put your blade in the middle of it, then rock that sucker all over the place until whatever it is you’re cutting is unrecognizable from its original form. Or grab two cleavers and take out your frustrations until you have a little pile of itty-bitty-tiny-pieces-parts. That’s mincing. And if you are really good at it, the only trace of what you minced will be the aroma.
I hope this clears things up for people and helps you to interpret some of those instructions in your recipes. Whenever there is a term you guys don’t know, just let us know and we’ll put it in the technique corner!