The julienne and the chiffonade are two common techniques for slicing vegetables and herbs into long, thin pieces. Julienning is generally used to cut vegetables, such as carrots, zucchini or potatoes, when matchstick-like pieces are desired. A chiffonade is more commonly used to slice leafy greens or herbs into thin ribbons.
When to Julienne
Julienning a vegetable is appropriate when you need long, even matchsticks, such as in salads or stir-fry. In addition to enhancing the presentation of the ingredients, julienning creates a shape that cooks more evenly. The technique works best on vegetables that are firm and hold their shape when cut, such as carrots or potatoes. Other vegetables that can be julienned include peppers, celery, parsnips and onions. Beef, pork and other meats can be julienned as well.
How to Julienne
To julienne a round vegetable, such as a carrot, cut the carrot into 2-inch long sections. Cut off the rounded sides so the carrot pieces become rectangles and then slice these pieces into long 1/8"-thick planks. These planks can then be stacked and sliced into matchsticks. For an irregularly shaped vegetable, such as a green pepper, first remove the top, bottom and core. Slice the pepper once and roll it out onto a cutting board. After removing the ribs, it can be julienned by making thin slices along the width of the pepper.
When to Chiffonade
Fresh leafy herbs, such as basil can be cut using the chiffonade technique. The word chiffonade mean "rags" in French, because the resulting pile of herbs looks like strips of rags. The benefits of making a chiffonade of herbs is that the surface area of the herb is greatly increasing, meaning that more flavor can be extracted from it with less cooking time. A chiffonade can also be made from leafy greens, such as spinach or collards, which will reduce the required cooking time.
To make a chiffonade of basil, gather several fresh, clean basil leaves and arrange them in a stack. Then, tightly roll the stack across the width of the leaves so the result is a cigar-shaped cylinder. With a very sharp knife, slice thin strips from the stack, slicing in the direction of the roll. When making a chiffonade from spinach, collard greens or other larger leaves, it may be necessary to remove the stems before rolling up the leaves.