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Uniform slices of vegetables or meat in a recipe really do make a big difference. It can dramatically elevate a simple dish into something more. With uniform slices, food cooks more evenly, looks more professional, and just feels like it is competently made by pro-chefs in 5-star restaurants. To achieve such uniformity— something that a pro-chef needs months and even years to learn to do so easily—, you will need a good mandoline. The question is, Japanese or French?
Your choice all depends on what you plan on using the mandoline for. The original French Mandoline is durable and longer lasting due to the all stainless steel construction. The innovative Japanese Mandoline is lighter and cheaper, making it perfect for home use.
In general, a French Mandoline is more durable due to the all stainless steel construction. However, it’s bulkier and pricier than a Japanese Mandoline, which makes the former better for heavy duty or professional kitchens, and the later better suited for home use.
What is a Mandoline?
Mandolines are cooking tools used for cutting juliennes and slicing food. With suitable attachments, mandolines can even make crinkle-cuts. The term “mandoline” is derived from the wrist-motion of a skilled mandoline user.
Mandolines consist of two parallel working surfaces, one of which allows you to adjust the height. The food is slid along the adjustable surface until reaching the blade mounted on the fixed surface, slicing and letting it fall.
Other blades are positioned perpendicular to the edge and are usually mounted so that slices are cut into strips. A mandoline juliennes in several thickness and widths. A typical mandoline makes waffle cuts, slices, crinkle cuts, and vegetable and fruit dices.
How is a Mandonline Used?
So, how do you operate a mandoline?
Well, it is used by running a piece of food, plus some protection for the fingers, along with an inclined plane into blades.
Why use a Mandonline ?
A mandoline slices food. My knives can do that, too!
Maybe, but is that all there is?
Here are some reasons that may convince you to use a mandoline slicer for your slicing needs:
Mandoline offer you quick and speedy slicing when you are in a hurry or if you need to slice lots of veggies and fruits for unexpected guests. Mandolines can make quick work on even the hardest, toughest vegetables out there such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes.
Even if you are an experienced home chef— going tad, tad, tad, tad, tad in the chopping board eventually is enough to drive anyone crazy.
How many times have you sliced your own fingers with your chopping skills? Fast or slow, your fingers are always at risk of wounds when using knives. While it’s possible to hurt yourself operating a mandoline as well, with the proper safety precautions, it’s a lot safer. All mandolines come with protective handles that grip the food and protect your fingers from the sharp slicing blade. Throw in cut resistant gloves that some mandolines come with (or you can purchase one separately), and you can slide and slide without worrying about slicing your fingers too and turning your dish into a bloodbath.
I don’t know about you, but working with my knife is not always my greatest strength. When slicing or julienning veggies and fruits, I usually get a mixture of thin shavings and big chunks. This creates a more significant problem when cooking— thin pieces are all mushy and soft whereas the thicker ones are still tough to bite onto.
With mandolines, however, you do not have to worry about this anymore. Since you can set the thickness of the blade, each slice of your food will have the same size and thickness. This makes it suitable for baking, cutting thin slices of meat for hot pots, Japanese yakiniku, or roasting veggies, among many other things.
Oh, and it makes your food look more professional too!
Most mandoline slicers include interchangeable blades, allowing you to make regular slices as well as fry shapes, juliennes and more.
By switching the blades, you get to create a variety of food styles without using different kitchen knives and tools or even learning excellent knife works. This gives your dish a “WOW” professional-look factor with little technical know-how and less time.
The Great Mandoline Showdown
When looking for mandolines, you are usually offered two style— the original French-style mandoline and the Japanese version of mandoline. Although they provide the same basic function— which is cutting through foods— the two are different in some key areas, and such differences can be crucial depending on your skill level in the kitchen.
The Classic Mandoline of French
The classic French mandoline is the style that most students used and learned in culinary schools. In general, this type of mandoline is constructed from stainless steel, so they are a bit larger and more heavy-duty that their Japanese siblings. Moreover, the higher quality of construction also makes them costier
French mandolines come with a blade that goes straight across horizontally. The blades are interchangeable, allowing for a variety of cuts, including baton, juliennes and ridge shapes in sizes which range from paper-thin slices to half-an-inch thickness.
The blades of a French mandoline tend to be thicker and dull more quickly. This means that you will need to remove the blades and hone it on a stone from time to time.
As any good chef will tell you, there is actually nothing more dangerous than slicing with a dull blade. This is why French mandolines are not typically recommended for home chefs and is used by expert and professional chefs.
How to use a French mandoline?
Top Picks For The Best French Mandoline
1. Bron Crouke Classic Mandoline
Produced by the company that created the original mandoline, the Bron Crouke is a classic found in many chef’s homes.
A user said the “the original is still the best” since it can last for many years, all thanks to the heavy-duty construction.
The Original Mandoline: This is the original mandoline that has stood the test of time, and is made exclusively in France. It’s built for both professional chefs and home cooks. It features a classic French design but with a modern twist of stainless steel.
Different Cuts: Julienne? Wavy? Straight? Whatever you want, the Bron Crouke mandoline will give it to you with thickness setting that “infinitely adjustable from paper-thin to maximum.” It also comes with extra blades for more options.
Ergonomically And Safely Designed: Its slope is designed for ergonomics so food slides down easily when slicing, while the plastic safety guard should protect your fingers from harm.
Easy Cleaning and Storage: Being stainless steel, this can be thrown in the dishwasher. Also, its sturdy legs can fold flat for a more compact storage
As amazing it may seem, this mandoline is extremely large and weighs 5 pounds (a characteristic of French-style mandolines). If space is a commodity in your kitchen, I recommend going for something else.
Overall, the Bron Crouke will give you the classic feel of French mandolines as well as easy and quick cutting, every time.
2. OXO Chef’s Mandoline Slicer
OXO Chef’s Slicer is a user-friendly, French-style mandoline under $100 (at time of writing). It is the perfect tool for creating culinary arts like a pro, both at home and in a professional kitchen.
Many users are impressed by how easy it is to cut French fries and common veggies for vegetable salads.
Four Sharp Styles: This mandoline slicer includes a serrated, straight and 2 different wavy blades that can be set to any slice thickness. So, go on and cut through cucumber salad, “wavy potato slices for home-baked French fries,” onion rings, citrus slices, and waffle fries.
Convenient Dial: The OXO mandoline slicer also features a soft, easy to read dial for selecting the slice thickness you want to julienne setting.
Comfortable And Stable Design: The mandoline features a soft handle that is set higher than the body in order to ensure a comfortable grip as well as keeping your hand out of the way. Furthermore, its wide and non-slip feet will make sure that the slicer is stable and secure on the countertop while slicing.
Safely-Covered Blades and Easy Storage: Unused side of the blade is hidden for safety. Storage is also easy with all blades stored on board or in a compact box. One user loved its folding legs for a compact storage.
Overall, the OXO Chef’s Mandoline Slicer is a convenient and versatile mandoline for your everyday slicing needs.
3. Cuisinart CTG-00-MANG Mandoline
Being the cheapest French-style mandoline in our list, this mandoline from Cuisinart is an affordable choice for the believer of French-style slicing.
Similar to the best mandolines out there, users love how sharp its blades are.
Ultra-Sharp Stainless Steel Blades: Cuisinart is a reputable company of great kitchen tools, so there is no question that their mandoline also comes with top-notch constructions. Its incredibly sharp blade is made with the same precision tech used to create Cuisinart’s food processor blades. In short, this slicing tool can cut just about everything!
Four Interchangeable Blades: For your versatility, the mandoline comes with 4 stainless steel blades that offer 5 cutting options— thick and fine julienne, shredding, crinkle cut or straight edge cut.
Blade Protector: Cuisinart did not forget about safety. Storage slots and safety covers are included to prevent injuries from the sharp blade. User loves its blade protector that can “flip up when in storage.”
Extra Accessories: Cuisinart is generous enough to include some accessories to maximize the use of the mandoline. Other than the extra blades, this mandoline also comes with a food holder, cut-resistant gloves and a recipe booklet.
Now, it might seem great and all, but some user claims that this mandoline needs a bit of re-designing for safety purpose. For instance, the food holder can “slipped off the track to the left or right” when slicing, potentially putting your fingers at risk.
In conclusion, this is one affordable French-style mandoline, though for safety reasons also use the included cut resistant gloves.
Like in many fields, the Japanese were able to step in and think of a few notable innovations, taking their slicing to the next level. When compared to their French counterparts, Japanese mandolines are much lighter in weight and are much more affordable.
Japanese Mandolines make great consumer-level purchases, and you won’t need to free up extra space for an industrial-sized French slicer worthy of a Michelin-star restaurant. They are portable and quite easy to store, unlike their bulkier siblings.
The Japanese mandoline’s most defining characteristic are its blades.
Steel blades from the Japanese are renowned in the culinary industry and are considered some of the top cutlery available in the world. These blades are used in mandoline machines. You can expect nothing short of a quick and even cut in every slice.
Furthermore, the ultra-sharp blades are positioned diagonally, giving you a cleaner cut and more control all through the process. Unlike their French counterpart, Japanese blades are extremely durable and don’t get dull quickly, making a huge difference for home chefs who do not want to deal with the constant changing and sharpening of blades.
How to use a Japanese Mandoline?
Top Picks For The Best Japanese Mandoline
1. Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer
Being Amazon’s Choice for “Japanese Mandoline,” it is only fair that it takes the top of the list. Originally, a tool for quick food preparations in restaurants and hotels, this Japanese mandoline slicer has now taken over homes, thanks to its affordable price range.
The Benriner name has become synonymous with vegetable slicing. In fact, one user called it “a scary vegetable murdering slicing machine.” As scary as it may sound, this is one reliable mandoline slicer— Japanese-styled.
Variety of Cuts: With a fixed straight edge and 3 interchangeable cutting blades as well as an easy-turn dial for slice thickness adjustments, it is easy to create a variety of cuts to fit any recipe.
Premium Blades: The mandoline features Japanese stainless steel blades, handcrafted to perfection, that are extremely sharp.
New and Improved Design: The mandoline now comes with a secure grip handle, safety guards for keeping your fingers out of harm’s way, secure hooks to connect to bowl for collecting slices and a non-skid base for stability when cutting.
Easy Cleaning: This mandoline can be disassembled quickly and is top-rack dishwasher-safe for your convenience.
Be aware that the blades on this mandoline are exceptionally sharp; one user even said that this is the only tool in the kitchen they are “actually slightly afraid to use.”
Regardless, if you want something of top-quality Japanese Mandoline, then this should give you the upper hand. Just make sure that you use it slowly, and you are wearing protective gloves.
2. Progressive International PL8 Mandoline Slicer
Safety, strength, and simplicity inspired the design of this mandoline slicer. Featuring a price tag of around $60 (at time of writing), this is one premium Japanese mandoline.
Most users are highly satisfied with their purchase with all the safety features and slicing reliability it provides.
Superior Quality: From delicate julienne veggies to delicious gratins, the Professional Mandoline Slicer from Progressive International will give you impressive slicing results.
Dial-Style Settings: The mandoline comes with an adjustable knob that offers manual settings— from thick cuts of up to 7.5 mm to paper-thin slices of 1 mm. With just a turn of the wrist, you can slice thin or thick cuts that will surely impress any guests.
Non-Skid Feet: The PL8 also offers non-skid feet for stability during slicing and can be folded in for easy and compact storage.
Wide Slicing Deck: The Mandoline offers a wide slicing deck, which allows food to be guided easily and secured with a reliable safety hand guard.
However, even though this product has all the essential features you will want in a good mandoline, it does have a vulnerable part— its plastic construction. A user said, “When they break— it will become useless.”
What makes a good mandoline?
Well, here are some things you need to check first before making a purchase.
A mandoline needs to be sturdy without being too bulky. The best mandoline slicers need to be strong enough to withstand the extreme sliding pressure of even the toughest ingredients across the slicing surface without breaking or wobbling.
When it comes to mandoline, there are 2 types of blades used — high-grade stainless steel and ceramic. Both are ultra-sharp and sturdy, but steel blades are cheaper and easier to maintain. Ceramic blades, on the other hand, are corrosion-free and don’t absorb smells.
Mandolines are extremely sharp, so you need a slicer that comes with a comfortable and safe cutting guard for gripping the food to ensure it gets sliced properly without hurting you.
In this regard, cutting guards that are wide at the base are usually the safest. They also offer a smooth slide.
The actual slicing process needs to be effortless and effective. For that to happen, the mandoline needs to be equipped with sharp cutting blades, which should also be interchangeable for good measure. Some slicers offer a V-shaped or diagonally slanted blade design for a smoother slide, particularly for soft veggies and fruits.
Does it offer you slicking options— be it style or thickness? Can you julienne, grate and cut with that same kitchen tool?
Depending on your budget, you might also wish to invest in slicers with height settings. The more height settings you have, the more versatile its slicing options are. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to easily adjust or lock in place the thickness setting or blade height.
Maintenance for mandolines should play a substantial role in your choice. Mandolines are frequently tainted with residue, which can damage the unit if it is not cleaned correctly. Look for a mandoline that can be cleaned using a standard dishwasher for your convenience.
Tips on Using Your Mandoline
- No matter how high quality the hand guard of the mandoline, it is always a great idea to wear cut-resistant gloves. A single slip can cause you serious injury.
- Make sure that you put the mandoline on a stable and secure table or cutting board.
- When slicing, make sure that you use the handguard and that you have an excellent grasp.
- If your food is too large to fit in the mandoline, you might as well cut it down.
- Even if you are in a hurry, you need to do it slowly and with precision to avoid slipping.
- It could be tempting to slide in the very last bit of the food past the blade. However, if possible, leave a bit of waste at the end so that your fingers will not aim dangerously close to the sharp edges.
- Make sure that you clean the mandoline every after use to keep it in tiptop shape.
French versus Japanese- Who Wins?
As you can see, both slicers have their pros and cons.
Main Differences Between French and japanese Mandolines:
Both slicers have their differences, each with their own sets of strength and weaknesses. Here is a rundown on what sets them apart:
- Blades run horizontally to slice straight through ingredients
- More expensive
- Lasts longer because of heavy-duty construction
- Larger and much heavier
- Blades get dull faster requiring more maintenance
- Blades go diagonally for more control and cleaner slices
- More affordable
- A lot lighter
- Easy to store and portable
- Blades are durable and don’t dull quickly
If you are a chef who owns a restaurant or anticipate constantly using your mandoline, then the classic French mandoline is the better choice, since they are built to endure daily abuse.
If you are a typical home cook however and still wishes to impress friends, family, and guests with uniformly cut food pieces in just a short amount of time, the Japanese mandolines will be the best option. Japanese blades are quite reliable and won’t require constant sharpening.
Mandoline slicers may look scary. However, when they are correctly used, they can be a lot safer and efficient than your most-loved knives.
Do you agree? Feel free to voice out your ideas and fire up the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!
Until then, happy slicing!
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