While many may think a “mandoline” is a violin-like instrument, what we are really referring to is a culinary instrument that is one of the hottest cooking utensils today, according to CBC’s Sounds Like Canada host Shelagh Rogers (Thursday, March 29th/07). In its simplest form a mandoline is a manually operated vegetable or fruit slicer.
Some of you may be reflecting on Ron Popeil’s Veg-OMatic food slicer which was promoted on television in the 1960s for a mere $3.98 and was known to millions for the catch phrase “it slices; it dices!”. Today mandolines have come a long way from the 1960s Veg-OMatic, in terms of their ease of use, safety and quality.
A mandoline is a hand-operated appliance that usually comes with a variety of adjustable blades that enable you to make precise cuts in firm fruits and vegetables such as melons, carrots, apples, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, sweet peppers and zucchini.
For food dishes such as salads, appetizers, caramelized or fried onions, sliced potatoes, or anything that requires thick slices or well formed crinkle cuts, the mandoline is one of the best ways to accomplish the task in less than half the time it would take to slice by hand. Safety is paramount in mandoline design and today most mandolines include finger guards which keep fingers safely away from the cutting blades.
The OXO Mandoline, recently touted on the Today Show as “the one kitchen gadget that cooks at home have been waiting for”, includes straight and wavy blades that can be set to any thickness for slicing. Just turn the soft dial to select your slice thickness or julienne setting. All blades are safely covered when not in use. A soft handle set lower than the body ensures a comfortable grip and keeps your hand out of the way, and wide, non-slip feet keep the mandoline stable and secure on the countertop. The large food holder secures the food, protects fingers and has a soft grip for added comfort. Storage is a snap: all blades store on board for added safety and convenience, the legs fold compactly, and the food holder snaps underneath. All blades are easily removable for cleaning.
Tips for using a mandoline:
- Always position the mandoline in front of your body, so the direction of the cutting and slicing is straight out from you and not moving left or right across your body.
- As you move the food over the blades, press down on the grip and move it using even pressure and a smooth motion, which will result in more consistent cuts and thickness.
- Some food items going through the mandoline may need to be cut into smaller pieces or shapes prior to slicing with the mandoline.