Chopped vs Diced
There are many savory recipes that call for chopping or dicing vegetables, and fruits, and we mustn’t forget about mincing as well. If you haven’t cooked much it can be very confusing. What is a small chop or a medium dice? How do you measure it? And does it make any difference if you chop or dice? In this article, we will take a look at chopping and dicing so that you will be able to produce delicious meals.
Sometimes dice and chop are used interchangeably, but they are different. If you chop a vegetable, the pieces will be larger than if you dice.
Chopping produces random shapes and they are less precise than if you dice. A large chop is about the size of a nickel, a medium chop is approximately half the size of a nickel, while a small chop is half the size of a medium chop. It should be around a ¼ inch on each side. It is important to get the size right, but the shape doesn’t matter so much.
Dicing is more precise than chopping and the pieces should be uniform. They will also be smaller than chopped pieces. The size is about the diameter of a pea, but they should be a square shape. If you are having a cold dish such as salsa, you will have to dice the vegetables so that they are small enough to put on your tortilla chips, However, dicing is also used for making hot food.
Mincing produces the smallest pieces and you can even mince until you get a paste, as with garlic. Minced pieces of vegetables don’t have to have the same shape.
Recipes Using Chunks or Cubes
Sometimes a recipe will ask you to chop chunks and others, cubes. So, what is the difference? Well, chunks are roughly chopped pieces. A lot of recipes will call for chunks of vegetables to make stews or stir-fries. Chunks are also extensively used when making a stock, either from meat or from vegetables. You should try and keep your chunks roughly the same size, but it doesn’t matter what the shape is.
Cubes are slightly different from chunks. Yes, they are about the same size, but they are uniform. You may want to cube vegetables when you are serving appetizers as they look so much better if they are the same size. Fruits also looks good if cut into cubes. An extremely popular appetizer is banana and pineapple on sticks.
Do You Have to be Precise all the Time?
Usually, it is advisable to follow the recipe. If it says dice finely or medium chop, that is what you should do. This is because the recipes call for accurate cooking times and if the pieces are not chopped correctly, they could be either undercooked or overcooked. If, for example, you dice an onion instead of chopping it and use the cooking time in the recipe, you will no doubt overcook it or even burn it. If you dice garlic instead of mincing it, you will get too strong a flavor that may be unpleasant to eat.
With regards to the shape of whatever you are chopping or dicing, it doesn’t really matter if the pieces don’t look quite uniform as you want them too, as long as they are the right size. However, if you are cooking for a dinner party rather than for your family, you may want to chop or dice the pieces more accurately.
The size, however, is important. If you don’t chop or dice the right size of vegetables the cooking times will be all wrong. A good recipe writer will have tested the length of time different sizes take to cook. If you don’t cook the food as written, you could also be compromising texture and taste. If you cook a large piece of zucchini instead of slivers, it will take much longer and taste different.
If you are cooking something which has a pungent smell like garlic, onion, or chili, then it is advisable to cut smaller pieces. This is even more important if you are going to use vegetables in a cold dish. Not many people want to eat a large chunk of raw onion, but they will probably be fine with diced onion in a salad.
What if I Want to Change the Size of the Pieces?
It is advisable not to change the sizes of the pieces of vegetables, or fruit from what the recipe says. However, with experience, you will probably be able to be a little more liberal and be able to decide what is the right size. Think of what you want the finished dish to look like. If you are having a stew, you might want larger pieces of vegetables, but you will probably want medium chopped onions. If you are making vegan burgers and want to add onions, it is better to have them finely chopped or diced. In the end, it is better to follow the recipe until you have practiced the dish a few times.