Chop Chives With The Back-Slice Technique For Bruise-Free Results

Tender, bright green chives are a popular herb garnish, not just for their pop of color, but also for their mild green onion flavor. The thin, hollow stems can be easily mangled when you're trying to cut them into segments to sprinkle over your plate, and when they are cut poorly, the intense green color turns muddy and they lose the elegant look of a proper garnish. If you've spent the money to purchase chives, it's worth the effort to learn to cut them nicely. After all, a garnish is about eye appeal, and bruised, mashed herbs are not the look you want.

The typical rocking motion usually involved when chopping herbs presses in a downward motion into the herb and that's more likely to cause bruising. Back slicing is exactly what it sounds like — dragging the sharp edge of your chef knife toward yourself and through the bundle of chives. Cutting in this direction takes advantage of the sharp edge of the knife without putting pressure on the tender herb.

Good knife skills result in better garnishes

Whether you want your chives finely minced into millimeter-thin slices or in a more rustic inch-long baton shape to decorate your dish, the result should be equally bruise-free and not mangled. Be sure to start with a sharp knife. A dull knife (or scissors) will never produce an elevated pile of chopped chives, no matter what cutting technique you choose, and all tender herbs are prone to mashing with a dull instrument.

One tip to keep your chives from becoming unruly on the cutting board as you cut is to roll them into a bundle with a damp paper towel. This trick helps ensure the cut pieces are even in size since they won't shift around. Position the chives horizontally in front of you on a cutting boar,, and with the middle of your knife edge down on the board, pull back toward yourself, slowly at first until you get the hang of the motion. After moving through the chives, lift the knife up to the starting point and repeat. Very small slices require close attention, so work with care. Just like any knife skill, this gets easier with practice.