Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tools of the Trade...the Mandoline

If there’s one thing I just cannot master it’s cutting things wafer thin. Another problem I have is slicing things evenly so all the pieces are exactly the same size. I just can’t do it. One tool that helps me do both very easily is the mandoline. Sometimes also called a V-slicer, the mandoline makes it possible to quickly, uniformly, and safely slice and julienne vegetables and fruits. The advertisement for the one I have says “it also shreds cabbage and neatly dices potatoes, tomatoes, and onions”. For safety, a holder firmly grips food with stainless-steel prongs so fingers are protected from the surgical steel blades, and the inserts accompanying the device lock in position. The inserts act as a guide for slicing against the V-frame's knife that reverses to create slices either 1/4-inch or 1/16-inch thick and two julienne inserts for creating 1/8-inch or 3/8-inch strips. For storage, the V-frame, all three inserts, and the safety holder fit into a caddy that can stand upright on the counter, lie flat in a drawer, or hang on the wall.

A stainless steel model

I love to use my mandoline to make cucumber salad. I slice them wafer thin and dress them with rice vinegar, a little bit of oil, salt and white pepper and maybe a little dill. Sometimes instead of oil I’ll use plain yogurt. Both versions are great for a picnic or to enjoy on a hot summer day. Since temperatures are on the rise (it is the beginning of summer after all), it’s a great time to get out this helpful tool and make this refreshing salad.

Why get one, you ask? You may already have a food processor with attachments that can do the same thing. Well, you can’t slice onions, which are near impossible to get whole into a food processor, when you want to make rings. I’ve also never used the food processor to julienne anything. I think the V-slicer works great for that as well. Potatoes and sweet potatoes, sliced to make fries, are a snap with the mandoline, too.

The Boerner v-slicer
Fortunately, there are mandolins and V-slicers available in all sorts of price ranges, from the less expensive rugged plastic ones, such as the one I have by Boerner (which you can find for around $30), to the spiffier stainless steel models available at over $150. Choose whichever your budget allows, but it’s a great tool to have when your slicing capabilities are limited (like mine).

1 comment :

  1. Mandolins are great tools when used properly. All mandolins come with a safety holder. Use it! I know someone who needed to make an emergency room run more than once for not using the safety holder. Those mandolins are sharp!


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