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The Trick to Dicing Fresh Tomatoes

This evening I discovered the trick to dicing fresh tomatoes.

I'm sure every chef worth his or her salt shaker learns this on day one, but for some reason up until now I either put up with tomato skin in my dishes or used canned tomatoes instead.

I'm sure it was one of Alton Brown's shows that tipped the scale - that, and getting disciplined about using the knife sharpener on our blades before prepping the ingredients.

If you don't have a sharp paring knife, you can forget using this technique. It doesn't have to be super-razor-sharp, but dull just doesn't cut it.

  • Using a sharp paring knife, take your tomato and half it, down the axis, just like you would if you were halving an apple.
  • Cut each half into four or more segments, whatever is optimum to keep the juices from leaking.
  • Take a segment, and hold it on the cutting board so that it is positioned upright on the stalk end, like a half-moon, with the skin side away from the knife.
  • Cut away any pithy white part remaining at bottom end of the wedge, but be careful not to cut right through to the cutting board.
  • Continuing the knife stroke, pressing the knife blade flat against the cutting board, but with the sharp edge raised slightly. (Imagine you were spreading butter on a slice of bread with the dull edge of the blade.)
  • Draw the blade across the cutting board (spreading the butter) and at the same time, roll the tomato segment away from the knife edge so that the cutting board forms a tangent with the curve of the tomato, the cutting edge being the point of intersection.

If the blade is sharpish, you won't need any back-and-forth cutting motion, just slide that knife across the board, rolling the segment as you go. The newly separated tomato skin acts as a slippery surface for the knife to scoot along on.

It will take a little practice, but it's great fun to flick those transparent tomato skins into the trash.

Knife Skills! Allright!

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