ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top 10 chefs' tips

Updated on June 27, 2012

Want to know how to stop crying when you chop onions? Make the perfect roux? Cook fantastically fluffy and light basmati rice? Or simply an easy way to finely chop onions? Read on...

1. Stop crying when chopping onions

One of the most common questions I get asked is: “How do I stop crying when I chop onions?” or “What is your best tip to stopping crying when chopping onions?”

The most effective approach I’ve used is not breathing through my nose while chopping onions. This might mean putting a peg on your nose, but simply breathing through you mouth during chopping totally eliminates any chance of crying. If your eyes are still watering after trying this, you aren’t doing it right!

2. Make sure your knife is sharp

Always use a sharp knife when chopping. This is very important because without the sharpness, when you are chopping things like tomatoes, onions or peppers, a blunter knife may slip off the item and onto your fingers. Use a standard butcher’s steel or sharpening stone. Avoid knife “grinder” sharpening utensils - they tend to shard your knife.

3. Best onion chopping technique

If you want to chop onions really finely, I think this approach is one of the best.

1. Cut the onion in half lengthwise.

2. Peel back the outer leaves making sure that they stay attached to the onion.

3. Cut the (brown) tip of the onion off.

4. Now holding the peeled back outer onion leaves, carefully and slowly slice halfway up the onion towards the onion leaf end. DISCLAIMER: This requires real care – make sure you are holding the onion so that your hand is not in directly line of the chopping plane.

5. Chop down “leaf” end to tip leaving only small gaps between each slice.

6. Finally, chop across to get your perfectly finely chopped onion.

7. (Do the same with the other half.)

4. Sugar strawberries

Even if your strawberries smell great, they may not taste as good as they smell. Sprinkle a small amount of caster sugar over them and toss them gently to spread the sugar evenly. Leave for a few minutes. The juice from the strawberries will percolate towards the sugar and the resulting taste is intense strawberry sweetness.

5. Wipe your mushrooms

To get mushrooms clean, a lot of people peel the outer skin off mushrooms and discard the stalk. STOP! You are getting rid of the best bits! Both the outer skin and stalk of a mushroom contains some of the highest concentration of nutrients in the mushrooms.

Instead, use a clean, damp cloth and gently wipe any residual dirt from the mushroom (top, underside and stalk). Retain the stalk, and if you must – only cut the smallest end of the stalk off if it has dried.

6. Perfectly cooked rice

I used to make seriously stodgy basmati rice, wondering how on earth the rice I ate in restaurants was so perfectly light and fluffy. This is what I found out when I asked:

1. Put the basmati into a sieve and rinse under cold water.

2. Bring a half* pan of water to the boil and lightly salt.

3. Add the basmati.

4. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat.

6. Drain the excess water from the pan and cover for 5 minutes.

7. Fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains.

8. Serve.

(*Generally, use twice as much water as basmati.)

7. Revitalising limp lettuce

OK. You’ve left the lettuce out of the refrigerator on a hot day or simply left it in the fridge for a few days. It looks limp and unappealing. You go to throw it away. STOP! As long as it’s not rotting or mildew-covered, it can be rescued.

1. Get a large bowl and add cold water and several ice cubes.

2. Drop the washed lettuce leaves into the iced water and submerge as much as possible.

3. Wait 10 minutes.

4. Take the leaves out and dry.

The leaves are crisp and ready to eat!

8. Making the perfect roux / sauce

The trick here is to add the liquid (milk or stock) slowly so that the flour is fully incorporated. Too much in one go, and you’ll end up with a lumpy roux / sauce.

1. On a low heat, melt the butter in a pan and add the flour.

2. Stir until the mixture forms a smooth paste which leaves the sides and base of pan cleanly.

3. Cook for a minimum of 2 minutes to cook out the taste of the flour.

4. Turn the heat off.

5. Pour in a tablespoon or two of the milk/stock and mix in until smooth.

6. Keep adding small amounts of milk/stock and mixing in until smooth.

7. Once you get to a fairly runny consistency, add the rest of the milk/stock.

8. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring all the time (preferably with a balloon whisk).

9. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer until the sauce thickens.

9. Boil the kettle

Waiting for a kettle to boil may seem like a long time, but waiting for a saucepan of water to come to the boil will seem like much longer. The quickest way to bring a pan of water to the boil is to boil the kettle; add to the pan and put on full heat.

10. Preparation or “Mis en place”

OK, maybe this should have been the first tip, but…“Mis en place” is the term used in cookery school for preparing your ingredients before you start to cook. It stands to reason that if you are prepared before you start cooking, the process will work out much better and be a lot less stressful. So make sure everything is weighed and chopped before the cooking commences.


(click column header to sort results)
1. Stop crying when chopping onions
Breath through your mouth
2. Keep your knife sharp
Use a butcher's / sharpening steel
3. Best onion chopping technique
Follow the 7 simple steps
4. Sugar strawberries
Flavour behaviour
5. Wipe your mushrooms
Retain the goodness
6. Perfectly cooked rice
Simple and easy
7. Revitalising limp lettuce
Iced water and 10 minutes
8. Making the perfect roux / sauce
Follow the 9 simple steps
9. Boil the kettle
Quick an easy
10. Mis en place
Prepare before cooking

Quick poll

Which tip will be most useful for you?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • iTop10 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      You are welcome, Victoria! Let me know how you get on.

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 

      6 years ago from London

      Thank you for some useful tips, fingers crossed no more onion tears for me!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)