We recently purchased a mandolin for our cooking needs, so we thought we would share our experience as well as some recipes using this new tool. We have the Benriner Japanese Mandolin and we also purchased some heavy duty cut-resistant gloves to protect our fingers. There is an attachment that comes with the mandolin but it can be cumbersome to use and also creates more waste as a lot of the vegetable remains uncut.
I initially wanted to get a mandolin for julienning vegetables. There are 3 attachments to select the thinness of the sticks. I usually go with the medium-tooth blade.
A go-to dish for us requiring julienned vegetables in the warmer months is this Vietnamese noodle salad. It is healthy, refreshing and goes very well with Vietnamese pork chops. However, I found it very time-consuming to prep the vegetables by hand. This tool has helped me to cut down on that prep time. You do need to use caution when cutting highly pigmented vegetables like carrot as it can dye the mandolin and/or the gloves. Just wash these immediately after and it should mostly wash off. The cleaning process is relatively painless. I usually wear the cut-resistant gloves when cleaning this as I am clumsy and not interested in slicing my fingers off while washing the mandolin. The top of the mandolin can hinge out so it helps to remove some vegetables which are stuck. I found some fine pieces still get stuck between the blade and the plastic which can be annoying to remove. I end up using a toothpick to really get into the crevices sometimes.
Another dish in which I need julienned carrots and cucumbers is kimbap and bibimbap. These are versatile dishes you can mix and match with various ingredients. You can substitute the meat with a protein substitute like tofu for a plant-based option. There is a bit of prep work to get all the ingredients ready but it well worth it one you roll/assemble these delicious Korean staples.
Another great use for the mandolin is for shredding cabbage. I found it did a very good job of creating very fine shreds, much better than I would be able to with a knife. Be careful with making it too fine though as it can be too mushy. You can adjust the thickness using the knobs on the side of the mandolin. You also do need to play around with the orientation of the cabbage a bit to properly slice the vegetable. I think in this case, a wider mandolin may be useful as I had to cut the cabbage to a certain size to comfortably use the mandolin.
This is great for making soups like caldo verde. Here I used cabbage instead of kale for this comforting Portuguese recipe.
You can also use the shredded cabbage to make cabbage salad to go with your Vietnamese chicken congee which I talked about in my previous Instant Pot recipe post.
You can serve this shredded cabbage with some Japanese curry and tonkatsu/chicken katsu and rice for a lovely Japanese meal for those evenings that you miss your travelling adventures to Japan. I usually just use this homemade tonkatsu sauce as the dressing.
Alternatively, as the summer months are near, you can also make good old coleslaw with this as a side to your BBQ/smoked proteins.
The other great function of this mandolin is for creating thin slices of vegetables. We’ve used this to slice zucchinis when creating the 4-Hour Chef’s Union Square Zucchini. And recently we’ve made sweet potato chips as well. You may need to make minor adjustment to the proper slice thickness depending on your preference but it works overall very well for these types of long and skinny vegetables.
You can use the attachment with the finest-tooth blade to create delicate vegetable garnishes for you dishes. We have yet to use this but I envision using it to slice some red peppers to create a pop of colour to top off a bowl of ramen.
Overall, we are quite happy with our purchase. I generally do not like tools that take up space and only serves one purpose but I think this kitchen tool is versatile enough that I appreciate it being in my kitchen. Of course, a good chef’s knife and excellent cutting skills should be able to accomplish everything that the mandolin does, but I like the efficiency of this tool as well as the aesthetics of the outcome to make uniformly cut ingredients. One of the downsides of this tool is that sometimes it can be frustrating to clean if food gets stuck in the blades.
Do you have a mandolin at home? What is your review of this tool? Let me know in the comments section below!
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