Cooking Louisiana - Kitchen Knives

I've come to respect the diverse selection in Kitchen knives after researching them to make a purchase myself. I thought I might try to write a simple kitchen knife article that sort of brings it together. From here you can do your research.

Let's start with the basic kitchen knives. They are as follows:

Chef's or Cooks' knife
Utility knife
Paring knife

The Chef's or Cook's knife is the knife most used in my kitchen. The typical blade length is 8" to 10" but there are other sizes. This knife is the one typically used to chop veggies and meat on a cutting board and is considered the workhorse of the kitchen. 

The Chef's knife will have a nice cutting edge curve for rocking on the board. It will also have ample knuckle clearance.

In choosing your Chef's Knife consider what fits you best, not according to someone else's opinion. Lengths, weights, etc.; it's all a matter of personal preference.

With this knife especially, consider holding it before buying it, you'll do yourself a big favor.  

The next knife is a Utility Knife. It is typically 5 or 6" and is used for freehand cutting and piercing.

The Paring knife (no picture shown) is a small 3 to 5" long blade mostly used for peeling and small work. (you already know that...)

Pictures courtesy of Fantes Kitchen Wares

After these the bread knife (serrated edge) is about all you really need. 

Along with these basic knives you may want some serrated slicers such as the Miracle Blades. These knives are very thin and very sharp, you can't get too rough with most of them for prying and twisting. I regularly use 2 out of the set I have, the Rock-N-Chop to cut chicken bones and the filet knife for very thin slicing.

Japanese knives are very popular. Global knives are a good example of Japanese knives. 

Another popular kitchen knife is the Santoku design (it's not a brand name). To the right is one such knife (picture courtesy of Cutlery and More.)

It has the general shape of a traditional Chef's Knife but the cutting edge has a low degree grind. You'll notice the hollow spots along the edge. They are designed to minimize foods sticking to the blade. From what I've read people who like it love it and those who don't...well.

Beware, the metal handled knives can become more slippery than a wooden handle.

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Now that you're familiar with a few knife designs (there are many more) let's look at personal needs. 

Consider your quantity of knife usage. If you cut 3 onions a week you can probably get by with a small inexpensive set of knives. On the other hand, if you're in the kitchen every day for hours or deal with a wide variety of foods you'll want quality cutlery.

There are two basic requirements: Weight and Balance (feel & comfort) and edge hold. The higher quality knives are meticulously designed to give you all. Medium priced knives go for around $30, high end knives go for $80 to $120 and more.

Here are some of the brands and links to sites you can look for.

Wüsthof (Voos-toff) Henckels Global Cutco
Sabatier Chicago Cutlery Forchners Shenzhen Ceramic
F. Dick Messermeister Calphalon  

Forged knives have a bolster, that little hunk of steel between the handle and blade. A stamped knife has none. Before you choose between, them think seriously about how you use your current knife, especially on the heel end (largest part of the blade). Here's a knife part illustration. Click here...

There are also ceramic knives that need no sharpening. But some tell you if it does you have to send it back to the manufacturer. Ceramic knives are usually made of a Zirconium alloy, close to the hardness of diamond. 

Straight vs. Serrated edges...here's the way I look at it. Both are useful for cutting different things. I think you should own both. 

You may also want to read what others think about kitchen knives. Here are a few sites you can visit. (You may have to select a topic in each) Beware, you'll run across some very passionate knife owners!

Discuss Cooking ChefTalk KnifeForums Chef2Chef
eGullet      

I started by saying I was looking for knives for myself. I chose the Wüsthof (Voos-toff) 8" and 6" chefs knives. I've used each extensively for the last year and am very happy with them.

Good knives need to be sharp... read more. Click Here

 

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