Knives are a key tool in kitchens, whether those kitchens are in private homes or popular restaurants. Artists know the importance of having the right tools. While innate skill may be at the center of talent, brushes and paints can transform raw ability into something spectacular.
Tools play a significant role in the kitchen as well. Every chef – whether professional or amateur – needs certain tools. For many, that begins with a durable and effective set of knives. Slicing and chopping are an integral component of cooking, and good knives can help make meal prep that much easier.
Shopping for a new set of knives need not be difficult. Understanding the various types of knives available and their purposes can make the selection process less daunting.
• Start with the essentials. While there are many different types of knives, having at least four basic ones in your collection is a good start. Consumer Reports suggests that all cooks have a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a slicer, and a utility knife. A utility knife is smaller than a chef’s knife, but similar. In recent years, the Santuko knife, a Japanese style chef’s knife, has become quite popular among home chefs because of its effective design and versatility, so you may be able to replace the chef’s knife in your collection with a Santuko knife.
• Know your blade. Knives generally come in two blade construction types: stamped and forged. Stamped knives tend to be less expensive than forged, and forged are often the preferred choice for the professional because they can be better balanced. But it’s possible to find quality knives of both types, and ones that offer the right combination of function and affordability.
• Try out the handles. While blades get much of the fanfare, handles are important components as well. It’s important for chefs to find a material and handle shape that feels comfortable in their hands. Ask a salesperson if it’s possible to feel the weight and fit of the knife prior to purchase.
• Consider open stock when buying. Rather than investing in a large, complete set, find a manufacturer that offers separately sold knives from a particular line, referred to as “open stock.” Pick up at least one fine-edged knife so that intricate cuts will be that much easier.
• Care for the knives. It’s one thing to invest in knives and another to care for them. Read over any care instructions prior to purchase. Let the salesperson know if you need easy-care knives that can go in the dishwasher. In addition, learn how to sharpen the knives, as dull knives are ineffective and can be a safety hazard.
Knives are a key component of meal preparation. Take the time to select and sample different knives to make an informed purchase.