How to choose ... a mandoline

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 April, 2006, 12:00am

How to choose ... a mandoline No, we're not suggesting you use a misspelled musical instrument in your kitchen.

So what is it? A stainless-steel or plastic flat surface with interchangeable and extremely sharp (as in 'watch your fingers!') blades that allow you to slice and julienne much more evenly than you could with a knife. Some models also have blades for grating and making crinkle or gaufrette (waffle) cuts.

What's it used for? Precise, even slicing of firm fruits and vegetables. It doesn't work on meats.

What are the differences? The more expensive models are made entirely of stainless steel. They are triangular in shape and can be collapsed for storage. Perfectly acceptable - and much cheaper - models are often from Japan. The steel blades are set in a plastic holder, usually over a plastic box that catches the ingredients being sliced or julienned.

What to look for: the more expensive mandolines have adjustable blades, which allow you to change the thickness of whatever is being sliced.

What else? Of all accidents caused by equipment in professional kitchens, those involving the mandoline are among the messiest. Although the safety guard that comes with the implement can be awkward to hold, use it or you risk cutting yourself.