Is it me, or are mandolins overrated?
I was given a mandoline as a gift recently and after a couple of so-so results, I'm thinking about returning it.
My friend bought it at Williams-Sonoma, so I know it's not cheap, but I still am not satisfied...
1. It has a tendency to slip on the counter, which could be dangerous.
2. Besides french fries and the occasional salad, I'm not sure how much use I'll be able to get out of it.
3. I'm still a relative novice in the kitchen and would like my knife technique to improve.
4. At $100-$150, I've seen simliar prducts (v-slicer?) for far less.
5. I find that I'm wasting food- the last bits of veggies are left uncut and I have to manually cut them anyway.
Any advice? Will its worth or my technique improve over time?
I have a Japanese Benriner mandoline: about $30, even in non Japanese culinary shops. I use this at least 3-4 times a week. I love it. I've bought several as presents. It's convenient and easy to rinse off and toss in the dish drainer. I use it for carrots and turnips and beets and onions for a start. Since I own a vegetable farm, we eat lots of vegetables. The Benriner makes much nicer carrot chips than my 'regular' cheese grater. I highly recommend this simple Japanese tool. If you are also a Benriner fan, please post! julia
ps I found this link on google, it's a photo of the benriner mandoline. You might be able to find it cheaper elsewhere...
I assume you have a metal framed mandoline, which tend to be far more expensive and more difficult to clean than the plastic framed japanese versions. I've had a small one for years and for getting paper thin slices of anything I find it a real timesaver. I like slicing beets, cucumbers, onions, and potatoes especially. I would never be able to get such uniform cuts without it and I don't find it slips much (I use it over a plastic cutting board). Maybe you should downgrade.
I owned a Benriner and almost lost a finger to it. I prefer the metal mandoline. Having said that, I find them overrated too. Mine sits in a cupboard gathering dust most of the time. If I was doing mass quantities of slicing for parties, for example, I might find it useful, but I find for my limited uses, I prefer slicing with a knife. Not as pretty, but less hassle, especially in cleaning up.
To keep your mandolin from slipping, place it on a clean damp kitchen towel. You can also push the last bits of veggie thru by holding on the ends with a kitchen towel-- though you should do this with care. A mandoline has a really nasty bite that can sometimes go through a towel. Some mandolins have metal safety holders that can also be used for the last bits of food. (I personally don't use them as I think you lose too much control over the vegetable.)
Mandolins really shine when you are making high volumes of food with aethetically pleasing, uniform cuts. If you are just cooking for your household, it might just be taking up space in your kitchen. I'd recommend holding onto it for a little while and making a few more attempts to use it. Try using it for coleslaw or a veggie stirfry; use it to shave potatoes for homemade potato chips or waffle fries; use it for a unique salad to impress dinner guests with rarer vegetables like fennel or daikon cut at a pleasing angle. If it still doesn't do it for you or if you think you'll rarely use it, trade it in.
re: Karl S.
As the owner of both a V Slicer and the metal beast, I have to say I'm much more comfortable with the V Slicer. I even took a class to learn how to use the metal beast properly (learned the damp tea towel trick to keep it in place), but it still scares me. May be a good candidate for EBay!
re: Karl S.
I love my v-slicer. I could never make as good a gratin with a knife or a food processor. And yes, use the finger guard! I used to wait until I'd gotten partway through the potato before using the guard, but then had a really close call with a slippery spud. Those blades are very scary.