One of the key items used in a kitchen is a knife. Nothing revelatory there. But it is also a remarkably complex business – firstly in the choice of knife, and secondly, in how you use the knife.
Most people who have spent any time in a kitchen will have some basic knife skills. They will also have used a wide variety of knives – large and small, sharp and blunt and everything in between.
There are books and videos aplenty covering every aspect of kitchen knives and cutting techniques… your knife skills. This article is not going to try and compete with any of those – it is purely to inform you of three basic knife choices you should make and let you know where you might source them.
Knife Number 1: Santoku – these knives have become the latest craze in kitchens, and with good reason. Basically they fulfil the same purpose as the classic ‘Chef’s Knife’, but with a more forgiving and versatile cutting edge and performance. You could almost get away with just owning one of these knives on their own. It should have a decent weight and an inflexible blade of approximately 7” – 8”.
Knife Number 2: Cleaver – A lot of people have never used one of these before and they are missing a trick. Most commonly used in South-East Asia, they are a remarkably versatile kitchen implement that lends itself as easily to chopping fine herbs to jointing meat and most things in between. Again, weight should be an issue – heavier the better and also size of the blade should be 6” – 7”. They do come much bigger than this, but this is definitely a case of ‘size isn’t everything’.
Knife Number 3: Paring - This is a small knife, blade length normally about 4”. A good paring knife will see you sorted with most of your finer vegetable prep and any of the jobs that require a little more close up or fiddly attention. From taking the eyes out of potatoes to hulling soft fruits and even peeling, this knife will complete your basic kitchen set perfectly.
Finally, as with anything, the cost to you is basically ‘How much do I want to spend?’ – very cheap will invariably be very poor quality, and that is to be avoided, mainly because a poor quality knife will greatly increase your chances of having a nasty accident. Knives are not toys and should always be treated with respect. You can also spend hundreds of pounds on a single knife… again, unless you’ve just won the lottery, not really worth considering. There are plenty of mid-range options that will see you through many years of happy cooking.
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