In most cases, as mentioned above, the first step is to separate the leaves from the stems, keeping only the leaves, the most tender and fragrant part of the herb.
This is done because, as a general rule, the stems are always a little hard, and not very pleasant raw. But you don't necessarily have to throw them away: parsley stems, for example, are wonderful for cooking in a sauce or dish, even if you have to remove them after cooking.
Basically, just place the leaves on a chopping board
, then chop them more or less finely, with a chopper or a knife
, and you're done?
Well, it's not quite that simple. First of all, you have to get rid of a common misconception: "The finer the chop, the better the taste
No, it's a culinary legend, because the finer you chop, the more the herbs oxidize and lose their flavour, and the more some of their flavour is lost on the utensils. Cooks have a phrase for this, they say "taste is on the board
In any case, as a general rule, herbs age very badly once chopped, so whatever the method, you have to be quick.
So chop them, but don't overdo it, proceed quickly, and incorporate the herbs into your recipe as soon as they've been chopped. Don't let herbs that have already been chopped sit on a corner of your work surface, as they will quickly lose their taste.
How to chop
There are several ways to proceed, but here are 3:
Using a knife or chopper, chop the herbs you've grouped together on the board.
It's very simple, but you'll need to make quite a few strokes of the knife to chop all the herbs, which will need to be grouped together from time to time on the board.
The herbs are grouped together until they form a small parcel, a "boulette", and then delicately sliced, as you would a shallot, for example.
It's very efficient, and the herbs are chopped very quickly.
By the glass
The herbs are placed in a glass, and a pair of scissors is used to cut directly into the glass, until the desired texture is obtained.
It's even quicker and more efficient, and all you have to do is pour the contents of the glass into the recipe. This is definitely my preferred method.
An electric chopper
As you may have noticed, all these methods are manual, so what about electric choppers?
They're handy, of course, for chopping herbs and other things at the same time (garlic, onions, etc.), but they're admittedly not indispensable, and with them you tend to chop too finely, by pressing the button a little too long. If you use one, remember to chop for a few seconds at most.To sum up
: Chopping herbs is a simple matter, you just have to remember 1) not to chop too finely and 2) not to keep your chopped herbs waiting (incorporate them into your recipe as soon as they have been chopped).
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