1.) To chop food into very small pieces. The size of the pieces when mincing is smaller than diced or chopped food.
2.) Mince is also used to describe meat that has been ground or finely chopped, particularly in the UK. In the US, ground or finely chopped meat is usually referred to as ground ______. For example, minced beef in the UK is roughly equivalent to ground beef in the US, and is often used for meatballs, meatloaf, or burgers.
The word “mince” comes from the Old French word “minser,” which means “to cut into small pieces.”
The rest of this entry will discuss the first definition: finely chopped food.
How Large is Minced Food
The desired size of minced food can vary, but it is typically much smaller than diced or chopped food. In general, recipes that call for minced vegetables usually call for pieces between 1/8 and 1/16 inch cubed. However, some foods, such as garlic, are traditionally minced even finer, often nearly as fine as grating.
How to Mince
In general, mincing a vegetable involves cutting it to a fine dice first. Mincing most herbs begins with cutting them into chiffonade first.
Then gather the food into a pile. Place the knife across the pile, with your non-dominant hand on the spine of the blade. Rock the knife back and forth while moving it across the cutting board to mince your ingredient. You may need to repeat gathering in a pile and mincing, until the food is as small as you would like.
There are many vegetable-specific tips and tricks for mincing, and knife skills in general. I will add content to elaborate on knife skills in the future. For now, Julia Moskin’s Basic Knife Skills guide is a good place to start.
If you are not using a recipe, or evaluating how well written one is, it can be helpful to know when you should mince food, rather than dice, chop, or otherwise prepare it. Mincing is very fine cut, meaning it usually becomes impossible to identify or taste individual pieces of minced food in a final dish. It is also less precise and more variable than other cuts, meaning it may not provide pieces that look attractive after cooking
Thus, it is best to choose to mince foods whose flavor should be evenly distributed throughout a dish. This usually includes aromatics, such as garlic. Mincing is also ideal for dishes where a very fine texture is desired, such as sauces, spreads, or soups.