Kitchen knives are essential to any kitchen and are as important to any chef. That’s why you’ll see professional chefs having their own knife set, and it is given more value than anything else in the kitchen. But you don’t need to be a professional chef nor do you need to own a knife set to have a functioning kitchen. You’ll only need 3 kitchen knives to start with and here’s why.
If you’re ever going to have just one knife in your kitchen for the rest of your cooking life, the chef’s knife is your definite choice. It’s the one you grab when you don’t know which knife to use and the one knife you’ll use more than anything else. You can use the chef’s knife for slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing.
A chef’s knife is typically 8-10 inches long with a curved blade that allows it to rock back and forth on the chopping board. The broad heel allows for slightly heavier tasks like cutting thicker and heavier foods such as meat or potatoes.
This is where you invest your money. Some consider the chef’s knife as an heirloom piece destined to be pasted to the next cook. Get a chef’s knife that feels good in your hands as you will be using this knife a lot. Look for a full tang chef’s knife. This means the metal is the full shape of the knife that runs from tip to the butt splitting the handle into two parts. This type of knife will give you more balance and is hefty enough that you won’t need much force chopping down.
Chinese chef’s knife
A variation with a stark difference to the typical chef’s knife is the Chinese chef’s knife that at first glance looks more like a meat cleaver. It is rectangular like the meat cleaver but is thinner and lighter. The design leans more towards chopping rather than slicing and the square shape is great for scooping up the cut food all at once.
For a small-scale precision task that requires skilled cuts, you are going to need a paring knife. The paring knife looks a lot like a small chef’s knife with a blade that’s usually 2-4 inches long. This knife is designed for jobs that a standard chef’s knife would be too large to accomplish like peeling fruits or trimming vegetables. The control that you’ll get with a paring knife is a lot different than using a chef’s knife.
Acquiring a paring knife is not hard as you won’t need to spend much to get a decent one. Get a paring knife that fits your hand perfectly and one that’s sure not to slip from your hands.
A serrated knife, more commonly known as a bread knife, has many other uses than just for bread. This knife comes with a jagged saw-like edge called serrations, rather than the smooth straight edge a common knife has. It enables the serrated knife to cut through smooth, waxed, or slippery surfaces that a regular knife would have a hard time starting a cut. It also enables cutting things that have softer textures without accidentally crushing them instead.
Serrated knives are usually 6-10 inches in length. You might not want to invest a lot in these knives as they are rather hard to sharpen on your own. You’d have to send it out to a professional or buy a new one instead.
An item you might also want to get
A dull knife may do more damage than good and you’d want to get a honing steel after you have invested in these knives. A honing steel or honing rod is a metal rod with a handle that is used to sharpen knives. Unlike sharpening stones that sharpen knives by shaving away metal, honing steel sharpens the knife by realigning the edge to its former state. This gives the knife a longer life by maintaining its shape and mass. Get a honing steel with a guard to avoid accidentally cutting your hand while sharpening.