Jalapeno adds a punch of heat to anything from dips to meat dishes, but the pepper should be minced when you want to add flavor without biting into large pepper chunks. The fine jalapeno pieces practically melt away as they cook, allowing other ingredients to stand out in the dish. Minced and diced vegetables differ only in the size of the pieces. When a recipe calls for a minced jalapenos, it's basically asking for pieces diced as small as possible.
Wash the jalapenos thoroughly. Cut the tip and cap off the jalapeno with a chef's knife. Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise.
Pull out the small rib and seeds located just beneath the cap and clinging to the sides of the pepper. Much of the capsaicin, which gives peppers their spiciness, is concentrated in the seeds. Remove and discard all of the seeds if you want the jalapeno as mild as possible. Add seeds along with the minced peppers to increase the heat.
Slice each jalapeno half lengthwise into strips as thin as possible, commonly known as matchsticks because of their small size.
Gather the matchstick-sized jalapenos in a bundle running left to right from end to end. Hold the strips together with your thumb and pinky finger resting on the cutting board, preventing them from spreading to the sides. Place your other three fingers on top of the bundle to hold the shape.
Cut the strips into small pieces, working from end to end. Make each cut as close to the end as possible to achieve the finest mince. Pull your fingers back as needed to keep them out of the way of the knife, pushing the remaining length of peppers forward.
Make a small pile with the cut jalapeno pieces. Run the knife back and forth through the jalapenos to chop them up even finer. Hold one hand over the far end of the backside of the knife to steady it. The tip of the knife is the pivot point for fast chopping. Hold the handle with your dominant hand, with your thumb and forefinger on either side of the blade and your other three fingers around the handle. Rock the knife up and down on the cutting board, keeping the tip touching the board at all times. As you chop, pivot the knife from side to side to mince all the jalapenos in the pile. Continue this process until you're satisfied with the jalapeno size.
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- The rocking motion with a chef's knife makes mincing vegetables fast and easy, but it does take practice to get it right. Start slowly to master the motion before attempting to move at lightning fast speed.
- Always wear gloves when cutting jalapenos and other hot peppers, particularly if you have a hang nail or other open cut.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.
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