In a busy kitchen, there are a number of things that need to be chopped, sliced, diced or minced at any given moment. Anyone with an online cooking school certificate needs to be prepared with the proper cutlery. A serrated knife will just tear apart a raw chicken breast, and a pairing knife will be useless on that loft of bread. Here’s what every chef needs in his or her knife arsenal.
No chef can survive in a kitchen without a chef’s knife. These knives are large – about 8 to 10 inches in length – making them incredibly versatile. Chef Brendan McDermott told Epicurious that it’s the ultimate tool for over 90 percent of kitchen tasks, but it still can’t do everything. It’ll be too large and clunky to peel vegetables and other tasks that require precision. However, if you’re stocking your kitchen and can’t afford or don’t have access to a full set of knives, be sure to buy a high-quality chef’s knife at least.
Paring knives are ideal for cutting small things into smaller pieces, like strawberries or garlic. It’s also quite versatile, picking up most of the slack for items that a chef’s knife simply can’t handle. Paring knives are narrow, making it easy to fit them into small areas, like the middle of a squash. They’re small, about 4 inches long, and affordable, so they’re a very worthwhile investment.
Also known a serrated knife, these knives are meant for slicing bread without crushing the whole loaf. These knives are ideal for any soft food, like tomatoes or cakes. Use a bread knife on any sort of food that you’d cut with a sawing motion – you won’t accomplish anything by chopping with it! If a large bread knife is too unwieldy for you, you can get smaller versions that can accomplish the same things a larger one would.
Many people confuse a slicing knife with a paring one, but a knife made for slicing is actually quite a bit larger. It’s still very thin, but it’s noticeably longer. You would use this sort of knife on raw and cooked meats and cheeses, but a paring knife would be much more useful on fruits and vegetables.
While the chef’s knife reigns supreme in Western kitchens, The Kitchn claims that the cleaver is the most versatile knife in Chinese kitchens. These large, rectangular knives are typically used here to chop large pieces of meat, but in China, they take the place of everything from a pairing knife to the chef’s. If you’re interested in investing in a cleaver, consider a Chinese-style one. These knives are lighter than their American counterparts, making them useful for many more kitchen tasks.