About Chopping Herbs

I sure do implore y'all to use fresh herbs a whole lot, and it occurred to me that looking at a whole bunch of stalks and stems and leaves and junk might seem a little intimidating (to a big ol' wuss). So let's get back to basics and talk a little bit about how one goes about getting those fresh herbs into some sort of usable format.

First you'll need to separate the leaves, and put them all in a pile right there in the middle of your cutting board. Here, we happen to have some cilantro, unless you're British and then it's coriander. (You know, just like they think arugula is rocket and basil is BAHsil and oregano is oreGAHno.)

Don't worry if you can't get rid of every single bit of stem; so long as you've taken care of the thick (heh) or woody (heh) stalks you'll be fine.

Next, bunch your pile up into a tight ball (heh).

Finally, start chopping, and this probably goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: chop only the herbs AND NOT YOUR FINGERS.

There you go! Feel free to rock the blade of your knife back and forth over your freshly chopped bits if you want smaller pieces. And just in case you were worried, there is absolutely NO REASON WHATSOEVER why I did this with the giant Chinese cleaver, except that there really is a reason. All of our other knives were out getting sharpened.


  1. I really need to get my knives sharpened because it takes me FOREVER to chop herbs. Where do you take them? Or is my block of cheap Farberware knives not even good enough to bother with?

  2. Twice a year Sur la Table (there's one in Pentagon Row) offers free knife sharpening, so we try to drop ours off at least once a year. Just got them back yesterday and OH MY GOD the difference was unbelievable.

  3. That cleaver will haunt my dreams.

  4. I'll be honest with you; I'm always afraid of chopping my arm off at the elbow every time I use it. (Which is not often.)

  5. I just bought two Real Deal chef knives, and one of them was not a big ass clever.

    I'm glad you did this about the herbs. I've been doing it wrong.

  6. we don't use the big ass cleaver very often; mostly just for animal carcasses and melons. also, i don't know if there is any right way to do this; i just find it efficient.