Posted on 08 Oct 2015 15:38
Benriner is a Japanese brand of plastic mandoline style slicers. Professional French mandoline slicers are usually metal, but Benriners are less expensive plastic alternatives that will work well for many home cooks. There are many brands of such slicers on the market, but Benriner, made in Japan, has long been recognized as an excellent choice. Professional cooks sometimes call them "Bennies."
Like a French mandoline slicer, a Benriner slicer allows you to slice vegetables to a uniform thickness, but also much thinner than you could with a knife. Benriner has been such a popular brand of slicer for so long that many cooks have the mistaken notion that the mandoline slicer is Japanese in origin, although the original mandolines were French.
The Benriner comes with different blades that allow you to produce very uniform juliennes, such as with potatoes, carrots, or other root vegetables. A Benriner can even be used to produce paper thin slices of meat for making beef carpaccio, as long as the meat is partially frozen.
Although many food processors come with blade attachments for slicing, they cannot produce slices as thin as a Benriner, and using a Benriner is less fuss and mess, although it requires human power rather than electricity!
Unlike similar slicers, mandoline slicers like the Benriner have the blade set at an angle rather than flat. This angled setting makes for much more efficient slicing. There are also mandoline slicers available with V-shaped blades.
Although it requires much less skill to slice vegetables with a Benriner or mandoline than with a chef's knife, they can be very dangerous, as the angled blade can cut your hand badly if you allow it to come to close while holding a vegetable for slicing. Because of this, Benriners come with safety guard to protect your hand.
One of the most important features of a mandoline-style slicer is the control over the thickness of the slices. The problem with some plastic slicers is that they are not finely adjustable to different thicknesses. In order to produce slices of different thicknesses, you have to put in a different blade. Only a few blades means only a few thicknesses, none of which may be what you want. A Benrier comes with an adjusting nut that adjusts the height of the slicing blade to very fine increments, allowing paper-thin to thick slicing. The nut is located on the underside of the unit (or the side for the jumbo slicer), and all you have to do is turn it to the left or right to adjust the thickness of the slice. The two nuts you see on the side of the unit (above) are for tightening the blade after inserting it into the slicer.
Although dedicated home cooks, like professional chefs, are proud of their knife skills, and it is possible to produce fine slices or julienne with a very sharp chef's knife, a Benriner is great for high volume slicing when you need consistent and evenly sliced vegetables. Make no mistake, bennies are something you will see in professional kitchens.
Original Benriner and Super "Jumbo" Wider Benriner
The Benriner slicer is available in the original size and a wider size which the company calls Super Benriner. If you watch the video provided by the company, which is available on Amazon and other kitchen products websites, you may be confused by them referring to the "Jumbo" Benriner and then to a "Super" Benriner, both of which are distinct from the original model. The original Benriner has a 2 1/2 inch wide cutting surface, which is the smallest. It comes with three toothed blades, fine, medium, and coarse, for creating thicker matchsticks or super-fine juliennes. The main slicing blade is of a high quality and can be sharpened if needed (best to let a professional do this).
The super has a 3 3/4 inch cutting surface and also comes with three toothed blades. The Jumbo Benriner has a 4 3/4 inch cutting surface, and comes with 4 toothed blades.
One of the problems with Benriner slicers is that the cutting guard is akward to use and does not grip food well, especially when doing juliennes, which require more force to push the food throgh the blades. One option for overcoming this is a pair of cut-resistant gloves, which allow you to grip the food snugly but provide protection against cuts. These gloves can be used for many other tasks that may be damaging to your hands.
The Benriner allows for thinner slicing and finer-tuned adjustments than other leading slicers, such as the Borner V-slicer, which only has three thickness settings to choose from, which uses different sized inserts to change the thickness. Being able to finely adjust the cutting thickness through continuously adjustable screws is and advantage, but, it also requires more trial and error to dial in the thickness you want. Unless you really need to produce super-fine slices or juliennes, the Borner may be a better choice as it the V-shaped blades tend to slice more easily, making it safer to use.
Clean-up is simple, but the slicer should be hand-washed. They are not dishwasher-safe.
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