Knife Skills

GUIDE TO THE CLAW GRIP

 

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The be-all and end-all when prepping ingredients is a sharp knife as this will make y-our work easier. But even as children we realise that sharp can mean dangerous, so the first thing professional chefs learn is the claw grip. This grip ensures that the hand that is not holding the knife is never at risk; for left-handed people this means the right hand, for right-handed people of course the left. An added bonus: you not only work more safely with the claw grip, but also much faster.

The right way to hold your knife

Before we explain how the claw grip works, here are a few words on holding your knife correctly: first place your middle finger on the knife bolster. Your little and ring fingers go round the handle.  Then you grasp the sides of the knife with your thumb and forefinger. 

Hold it firmly: do you notice what a good grip you have? So even if your hands are slightly damp they won't slip off the knife and you can cut safely. 

Rock chop and claw grip work hand in hand

Back to the claw grip: the hand that is not holding the knife is used for the claw grip. Bend your fingertips slightly under so that they cannot be hit by the blade. You can use your thumb in two ways: 

  1. to move ingredients that have slipped out of position
  2. to hold the ingredients on the cutting board

To cut, you now use your protruding knuckles as a starting point. Keep the blade ver-tical so that it just brushes your knuckles. 

The tip of the knife rests on the cutting board while you continue to guide the blade rhythmically up and down past your fingers. Since your fingertips, making the claw, just rest lightly on the ingredients, you can pull them back slightly, bit by bit, in time with the blade. This also allows your fingertips to help you improve the spacing between each cut. 

Practice makes perfect

The claw grip needs a lot of practice, which is why professional chefs start on it right at the beginning of their training and it's worth the effort, as it not only makes prepa-ration easier, it also makes it much safer. And what could be better: you can practice and perfect your new technique while doing what you do anyway - prepping your food!

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