Honestly, slicing anything is one of the most complicated and challenging things when starting out in the kitchen. They do not only require a detailed and sophisticated way of slicing, but the manner of holding your knife itself is a different kind of rule as well.
Tomatoes are known to be intricate and pretty challenging to slice because of its slimy feeling. If not held properly, this will slide around your board. If put too much pressure, this can release too many juices. Hence, a good technique must be applied.
A chef has many techniques to make the dicing of a tomato a quick and easy chore. Of course, a hustle and bustle environment in the kitchen requires you to move as quickly as possible, without compromising the quality.
There are so many techniques when dicing your tomato. However, you should always take note that what works for other people may not work for you.
To dice like a chef, I present you some techniques that can help you achieve that goal. Read on and know more about these techniques for your next cooking activity.
You might think that any knife can be used when dicing your tomatoes. Although it is true, you will need a certain type of knife to dice like a chef.
A good knife type won’t just give you the best diced tomatoes, but it will also give you optimum performance and maximum comfortability. This will also make your work efficient too!
So what knife should you be using to give you that chef-life diced tomatoes? Well, you will need that serrated knife with the little teeth.
The little teeth will come in very handy because they will grab onto a tomato’s thin skin and it will cut straight through the tomato smoothly. Moreover, the tomatoes won’t slip off and eventually squish because of the good grip from the teeth.
You can always cut with the regular chef’s knife, however your blade has to be ultra-sharp so you can do an excellent job cutting through it. Take note that the flesh and the tomato itself is squishy and slimy inside, hence, they can really be challenging to cut.
When your knives aren’t too sharp, you tend to apply more pressure too. Too much pressure can squish your tomatoes and it will not be perfectly diced.
If you don’t have a serrated knife, you can always use your regular knife. Just “snip” the tomato skin and thereafter, you can slice your way through.
I’ve picked some techniques that can help you achieve the diced tomatoes that you want. Some can be complicated, while some are pretty simple and easy.
The simple steps don’t necessarily mean that they’ll come out as a low-quality diced tomato—they just follow different steps altogether. For the more complex one, they can be a little challenging at first, but you will soon get used to it.
Choosing which technique is not really based on your level of expertise. Rather, it will base on the comfortability and how well-versed you are with the slicing.
This three-step dice is the simplest one out there. Before doing anything, make sure that you have already washed your tomato and removed the produce stickers on its skin.
For the first step, using your kitchen knife, evenly slice the tomatoes starting at the stem and ending at the bottom. Make sure that these are evenly spaced to get that professional chef-like look.
When you’re slicing your tomatoes, make sure that they’re all of the same width. Also, do not put too much pressure on the hand that’s holding the tomato; just holding it in a manner that it wouldn’t slip off.
Remember that your knife should be sharp enough. This is because if not, there could be tendencies where you’re putting too much pressure onto the tomato that it will squeeze out all of the juices—leaving you a bland taste of tomatoes after.
Next, arrange your tomato slices next to each other. For some, you might find it comfortable to stack everything on top of each other for a quicker and faster result.
Stacking up the tomatoes isn’t my personal choice if you were only beginning to learn how to dice perfectly. This is because they can slip off in position and it will result in uneven sizes.
After putting temp next to each other or stacking each one on top, you can now cut them into evenly spaced strips. This will give you a nicely rectangular-like shape of tomatoes. This is probably the time you’d have to apply your geometry skills (kidding!).
For the last step, arrange everything together again like the second step and cut them into much finer and thinner cubes. You’ll see how the pieces will come out a cute diced tomato.
Before doing any slicing, you should first wash your tomato and remove any produce stickers. Of course, remember that hygiene will always be the first step when doing anything in the kitchen!
For the intricate dice, you first have to remove the stem of the tomato. This will leave you with a stem-less and clean look of the tomato.
Thereafter, you set the tomato on your chopping board. Let the top part (where the stem was originally placed) be the bottom. Meaning, this part should be the one touching the chopping board, and the bottom, flat part is the one on top.
Using your serrated knife, directly cut the tomato in half. This will leave you with two pieces of tomatoes to work on.
Set one side of the tomato aside, while placing the other close to the edge. Make sure that the sliced part is directly facing the board and the one on top is the outer layer of the tomato.
Next step is you horizontally cut through the tomato. For a firm and comfortable grip, curl your fingers and let the tips hold the tomato as you cut through it.
Source: Knife Skills – Dicing Tomatoes | Oregon Child Nutrition Programs YouTube; 0:41
When horizontally cutting through the tomato, make sure that you don’t go all the way through. So in short, you’ll be leaving the ends uncut and untouched.
The next step is to turn your tomato and make even slices. Again, make sure that you will not cut the tomato all throughout, still leaving the ends uncut and untouched.
Source: Knife Skills – Dicing Tomatoes | Oregon Child Nutrition Programs YouTube; 0:55
After doing the second cut, you turn your tomato back to its original position. Thereafter, you can cut all the way through the slices. This will give you multiple pieces of diced tomatoes in one slice.
Source: Knife Skills – Dicing Tomatoes | Oregon Child Nutrition Programs YouTube; 1:04
When slicing, make sure that each slice has the equal and even slices. This will give you a more even and intricate result.
This intricate technique is quicker because it makes more diced tomatoes. Moreover, it will not slide around like the other techniques.
Tips To Remember
When you’re picking tomatoes, always make sure that they feel heavy. You should also look at the skin. This should be smooth and bright, free from any lumps and discoloration.
Take note that some tomatoes may be large in size but they feel very light. Usually these tomatoes are not juicy enough and could be pretty dry inside.
To achieve the best tasting tomatoes, it is recommended to always wash your tomatoes under cold running water. Some chefs even like to air dry them rather than dampening with paper towels.
My mistake, and I think you resonate with me, is that I cut them while they’re wet. However, this is not highly recommended because they can actually slip off while you’re cutting them.
The best way to dice tomatoes is always use the top of the paring knife. This part of the knife has little pressure from your hand, keeping that juice from your tomatoes intact.
Always cut around the corner of the tomato, not in the middle. Cutting tomatoes is intricate, hence you always have to watch out for the pressure that you exert when dicing. Always cut at an inward angle.
You don’t know how wide the width should be? Cut each quarter into ½” wide strips before cutting them into ½” dice. This way, you’ll ensure a perfectly (and satisfying) cubed tomato without releasing too much of its juices.
Always go for a sharper knife. A blunt knife will cost you more frustration than perfection. Remember that tomatoes are soft and a little squeeze will have its juices released. So, make sure that your knives are well-sharped to achieve a diced tomato like a chef.
If you find yourself getting frustrated over the imperfectly diced tomatoes, don’t! Remember that knife skill itself is pretty challenging and I, too, find it very difficult at first. But, you’ll eventually get a hang of it.
There are many techniques that you can find aside from those that I’ve mentioned. Who knows, you might be able to come up with your own technique yourself!
Dicing is challenging, but it can also be pretty fun. So, relax and enjoy this little kitchen chore and get those cute squares for your salad!