Herbs are the perfect addition to add brightness and flavor to any meal, but if they're not chopped properly, they can bruise and oxidize, losing flavor and color. The easiest way to chop most herbs, particularly leaf-shaped herbs like basil and mint is to cut a chiffonade. Don't be worried about the fancy term. Chiffonade is actually a fairly easy technique to master. All you'll need is a sharp knife and a bit of technique, and you'll know how to chiffonade in no time.
1. Stack the Herbs Evenly
Stacking the herbs so that the leaves are all facing the same way will make this easier. Try stacking leaves like basil with the concave side facing down.
Once you have a nice, even stack, you're almost ready to start cutting!
2. Roll the Herbs
If you have a large stack of herbs, you may want to split it into two before moving on to this step.
Carefully roll the herbs into a tube. The more tightly you roll the herbs, the easier it will be to slice them.
For herbs like cilantro or parsley, try rolling the bunched herbs around one another. You won't have an even tube, but you should be able to get a fairly compact bunch.
3. Slicing the Herbs
Once you've prepared the rolled herbs, it's time to start slicing!
Use a very sharp knife whenever you're cutting in the kitchen. It will make the task a lot easier.
With your knife point on the board, slide your knife over the herbs. Use a combination chopping and slicing motion to cut the herbs into thin ribbons, cutting each section of herbs only once. Be careful of your fingertips!
Continue as needed until all the herbs are chopped.
Your finished chiffonade is ready to be used! Try to use cut herbs as soon as possible to keep them from losing freshness and flavor. They're delicious in a fresh herb salad.
This cutting technique isn't limited to herbs. You can also use it with lettuces or even cabbage leaves for nice, thin ribbons that will add a lovely touch to your dishes.
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Top image: gogostevie, additional images by Emily Monaco