Mandoline on the cutting edge of salad creation

The Associated PressMarch 12, 2014 

This past summer I fell in love with a kitchen gadget that has been relatively slow to catch on in the U.S. — the mandoline.

I’ve had several of these kicking around my kitchen for a while now, but I never quite saw the need for them. For those not in the know, a mandoline is shaped like a plank with a very thin, very sharp blade at the far end. To use it, you slide a firm vegetable back and forth along the plank. Each time you slide over the blade, it shaves a slice off the vegetable.

Many models are adjustable, allowing you to quickly and easily create slices ranging from a quarter-inch to paper thin. Which is nice, but so what? I have good knives and a good food processor, both of which slice nicely.

Except the mandoline isn’t simply a manual food processor, and it is so much more precise than a knife. Food processors usually are too robust to produce ultrathin slices. And knives — at least in most home cooks’ hands (including my own) — simply can’t produce consistent results.

So as I contemplated a fresh approach to “breaded” and baked haddock, I turned again to the mandoline to render a potato fit for pairing with the fish. In any other form, potatoes would be too robust for a delicate baked fish. But shaved paper thin, then wrapped around the fish, the potato slices become a deliciously crisp edible wrapper.

Just one caution — there is a reason mandolines come with a hand guard for holding the vegetables while slicing. They are extremely sharp and it’s easy to cut yourself.

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