Knife skills will be the subject of some of the most vital lessons you learn as you attend culinary academy. The more you master your cutlery techniques, the faster, more precise and ultimately, more efficient, you will be in the kitchen. To sum it all up, knife skills are key to being the best possible chef you can. Part of developing those perfect techniques, however, is making sure you have the right tools on hand. Making sure you have an array of high quality, sharp knives will make your capabilities as a chef that more impressive. Here’s the blades we recommend each culinarian to have to get the job done right every time:
1. Chef’s knife
First and foremost is the chef’s knife. You can use this versatile blade for everything from chopping vegetables to slicing meat. The blades of chef’s knives range from six to 12 inches, but eight inches is the most common length.
Even if you have small hands, a relatively long blade may be advisable as it will offer the advantage of increased leverage. Bon Appetit recommended checking the weight and grip on a few options before purchasing a chef’s knife. Try to find one that feels natural in your hand and is heavy enough to handle most of your routine cutting.
2. Paring knife
For smaller items, like a clove of garlic or strawberry, you will take up a paring knife. With a blade length of about 3.5 inches, it is ideally suited for detail work. While it’s perfect for slicing or mincing many fruits and vegetables, avoid turning the paring knife on harder vegetables. Carrots, for instance, require a heavier blade. Keep in mind, you should not have to apply much force to the blade. If you do, it may slip and cause injury.
3. Utility knife
While it gets less use from cooks than the two blades discussed above, the kitchen utility knife provides an option between the paring and chef’s knives. It has a blade of about six inches and is thinner than the chef’s knife. Chef Norman Weinstein explained to Gizmodo that this type of knife was ideal for fruit. It can also serve for cutting pieces of meat or preparing sandwiches.
4. Bread knife
A serrated knife is usually associated with bread, as the saw-like edge is particularly adept at cutting through thick crust. However, as chef Brendan McDermott told Epicurious, the serrations also work well for fruits and vegetables with waxy surfaces, such as tomatoes, watermelons, citrus and peppers. Serrated blades cut better than straight ones when dull, but they are also difficult to sharpen and require a specialized piece of equipment.
5. Boning knife
A boning knife has a thin blade that is usually five or six inches long, coming to an extra-sharp point.. Designed to remove bones and skin, it comes in two major varieties. According to Knife Planet, a more flexible blade is suitable for poultry and fish. A stiff blade will offer greater force to work with thicker meats like beef or pork.
6. Carving knife
With long blades of up to 15 inches, carvers are useful for cutting thin slices of meat. They can prove invaluable, whether you separate out pieces of turkey, ham or beef tenderloin on a regular basis or just at holiday feasts a couple times a year. Carving knives often feature an indentation built to help remove food from the blade.
Just as important as having the right knife for the job, you must always keep your knives sharpened and honed. With the exception of your serrated knife, it is best to hone your blades after every use to keep them as sharp as possible. Maintaining your knives properly can make a huge difference in your cooking. Dull blades slow down your preparation and increase the risk of injury since they are more likely to slip and cut you.