If you want to impress guests at a dinner party, there are techniques you can use to cut vegetables to improve presentation. Different cuts of meat need to be cooked differently depending on how lean and tender they are, yielding very different results.
Also known as matchstick vegetables, as the term suggests this technique consists of thinly cutting vegetables into long strips. It is a French cut that makes for great presentation; carrots, spring onions and peppers are most commonly cut this way. They can be used as a garnish for salads and soups or, cut shorter, they are added into sauces. An extremely sharp knife is needed to cut the vegetables thinly enough and it's a method that's best-suited to experienced cooks as control is needed to prevent unwanted cuts on fingers.
Chinese Vegetable Cut
The Chinese vegetable cut is also known as bias cutting or cutting diagonally. Vegetables cut this way are served raw in salads or cooked in soups and stir-fries, hence the popularity of this technique in Chinese cookery. The vegetables need to be cut with a sharp knife at a 60 degree angle, so you get pieces that are longer at one end than the other. Carrots, onions, cucumbers and leeks are usually cut like this.
This type of cut applies to beef. It is considered the best (and therefore most expensive) cut of the animal, as it is lean with very little fat, and makes for a tender steak. It is taken from the tenderloin or the back of the cow and is used for beef Wellington, chateaubriand and grilled as a steak; for the latter, it may require basting in butter or oil during cooking as its low fat content means it can dry out.
Silverside is a cut from the rear of the animal and applies to beef and lamb. It is a fairly lean cut that works well in stews, braised or minced; as it is quite tough meat, it needs to be slow-cooked. It is always sold boned and often will be covered in a layer of fat taken from another part of the animal to prevent drying out during cooking.
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