Knife Skills – Dicing Tomatoes

Some things are really hard to describe. That’s what pictures are good for. But sometimes even pictures don’t cut it. (Heh, “cut it” … I kill me.) That’s why I’ve got a couple of videos today. The right way — and the wrong way — to dice tomatoes.

I’m showing a plum tomato, because that’s what I always use for dicing. Large tomatoes like beefsteaks are great for slicing big sandwich-size pieces, but plum (or Roma) tomatoes are meatier.

Start by slicing in half top-to-bottom through the stem, then in half again.

And cut the stem out.

Line the quarters up and slice end to end.

Hmm, that looks like it’s done, and no video yet. And it all looked pretty straightforward. So where’s the trick?

It’s that last picture. It looks like I’m slicing straight down with the knife, doesn’t it? That works for cheese, carrots, potatoes … anything that’s the same firm texture all the way through. But a lot of foods are too soft for that: tomatoes, beef, raw chicken. If you just press down you’ll crush it instead of cutting it.

In this first clip you’ll see me try to cut straight down. I make it most of the way, because my knife is very sharp. But right at the end you can see the wedge of tomato fall down and get mashed. (By the way, I had cut the wedges in half again, because the dice was too big.)

This time I slide the knife away from me as I push down. It’s not a back-and-forth sawing motion, but it’s definitely moving across the tomato as it moves down.

Need a way to remember?

hard => hack it
soft => slice it

And that’s it.

Of course this means I’ve got something coming up with diced tomatoes. You’ll have to come back tomorrow for that.