Culinary word of the week: Chiffonade

Go ahead and say it aloud: “Chiffonade” (pronounced as “shiff-fe-nod”).

Doesn’t this French-derived word just sound complex? Like something a super elite chef would say and then somehow swiftly do in a gleaming commercial kitchen?

Well, it ain’t that hard.

Let’s start with the definition: All chiffonade means is to cut into thin ribbons.

Hope I didn’t disappoint you there. The good news is, it’s really easy to do, and with a large, sharp knife in hand, you can be the one chiffonading around the kitchen in your big chef’s hat.

Application: The term “chiffonade” is often used in tandem with herbs. While I suppose you could make a chiffonade of carrots or radishes,  we’ll start with the easiest ingredient: fresh, leafy herbs.

Why chiffonade in the first place?

To be able to use the term “chiffonade,” of course.

Oh, and the results also make for a snazzy garnish that brings a visual pop and enhanced flavor to a recipe.

Example: Basil leaves more often than not are the kitchen characters coming under the knife that is doing the chiffonading.

The easiest way to chiffonade is to grab a few leaves of fresh herbs — basil, in this case — from the garden (or the produce section of the store), roll them up tightly and cut. If you want longer ribbons, cut length-wise.

Voila! You’ve just chiffonaded.

Next time you make a pasta dish — perhaps one involving this awesome mushroom marinara sauce — finish the recipe with a chiffonade of basil, and then you can be the one sounding like a French cooking master.

Have a question about this technique or your own chiffonading tale to tell? Comment below!

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2 Comments »

  1. Pamela said,

    May 25, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

    This is a great sauce, we have made it a few times. Can’t wait to try your banana pancakes. Thanks for the detailed photos.

  2. I Want To Cook » Culinary word of the week: Slurry said,

    December 25, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    [...] Culinary word of the week: Chiffonade [...]

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