Knowing your way around kitchen tools is essential to save time and effort whenever you are cooking. As much as you give importance to your meal ingredients, you also need to know the importance of your tools. One great example is kitchen knives. Most people do not recognize the importance of understanding the different types of knives and their uses. You might even be one of those who buy a set of knives and only use a few of them, then leave the rest in the storage, collecting cobwebs. Worst still, using the wrong knife for a task can quickly lead to a set of blunt knives.
Your goal should be owning knives that perfectly fit you, and your kitchen needs. This might sound complicated as you are unfamiliar with the different kinds of knives and their uses. Fret not, whether you are a beginner or just looking for a way to improve your cooking skills, this article will help you hone your knowledge of kitchen knives, making you feel like a pro in the kitchen.
Did you know those dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones? You tend to put extra pressure to cut, resulting in accidents in the kitchen. It’s crucial to learn the different kinds of steels, their benefits, and the process of maintaining their sharpness. Who may have thought that the type of steel impacts the quality of the knife you own?
Familiarizing Yourself with Different Types of Steel
Here are the different steel types you need to know: Carbon, German and Japanese. Each of these steel types is exceptionally sharp, but they certainly have their method of keeping them that way.
Carbon steel, for instance, is commonly used for its strength and sharpness. The downside is that it rusts easily, so exerting extra effort to clean and dry it is necessary. Despite its rusting disadvantages, it still has superb performance in cutting. And when the time comes that your knife is not sharp enough to your liking, good news! Carbon steel is the easiest steel type to sharpen.
Next stop! We have German steel. Knives made of German steel are suitable for cutting through tough meats as they are sharp and durable. Unlike Carbon steel, it does not rust easily. The very reason why it takes longer to lose its sharpness. In comparison to carbon and Japanese steel, it has lower hardness, which allows it to be easily honed on a rod. This is the choice of most butchers who don’t have time to sharpen knives in between cuts.
Last on our list is Japanese steel. This type of steel is much denser than German steel and can be sharper. Japanese steels are usually thinner than western-style, making them more delicate but rust-resistant. Due to their higher hardness, they can be sharpened to a finer point, which produces a shaper edge. The downside is that a harder and finer edge is more brittle, so chips and burrs can appear more easily. So be extra cautious when cutting through thick meats and bones, alright?
Types of Knives and Their Uses
Now that you know the types of steel, let's get you familiarized with the types of knives and when and where to use them. Having extensive knowledge of these various knives will substantially help you cook efficiently.
First off, the Chef Knife. Popularly known as Chef's or Cook's knife, this knife has a slightly curved blade that helps cut and slice better as it can be rocked back and forth. It is the most common knife, so most will be familiar with the size, shape and uses. It's an all-rounder that can be used daily for cutting meat and chopping vegetables. Its broad blade can easily cut hard ingredients such as potatoes and even nuts! But keep in mind that with its usual length of 6-14 inches, Chef's knives are not ideal to use for peeling and mincing small ingredients. As popular as it is, it can be the most expensive knife, with prices usually ranging from $75 to $700.
Another kind of knife is the Paring Knife. Unlike the Chef knife, this tiny but delicate knife can easily be used in peeling and mincing ingredients. If you're preparing fruits and vegetables, consider using a paring knife for its sharp edge will make removing seeds, skin and pith easier. With its blade length of 3-4 inches, usual cooking tasks can quickly be done since you can manoeuvre it better. Paring knives are usually sold for between $30 to $200, making them the least expensive one out of all the knife types. Not bad for its versatility, right?
How about cutting around meat bones and cartilages? Is there a specific knife for that? Yes, there is! It's the Boning knife. Slightly bigger than the paring knife with 6 to 8 inches in blade length, the boning knife comes with a slim, curved blade. True to its name, this knife cuts close to bones without compromising the flesh of the meat around it using its very sharp edge. A Boning knife costs between $50 to $300.
It is best to use a Serrated Knife for bread and pastry, commonly called a bread knife (or pankiri). If you've tried other types of knives to cut through pastry, it may have resulted in the bread being torn or deformed. Ever wondered why the blade of a Serrated knife resembles a saw? Its design helps cut the crusty hard part of the pastry without compromising the delicate piece of the bread. Serrated Knives are usually around the same size as Chef Knives, 8 to 12 inches in length. It costs around $50 to $300.
Another must-have is the Slicing knife. This knife is commonly sold for about $75 to $350. It's the longest knife out of all that we've tackled, with a length of 8 to 14 inches. Preparing fruits and vegetables is an easy job with this one, as its long blade cuts with fewer strokes. This knife's blade is either pointed or round, which you may also use in slicing delicate fillets of meat and fish. These knives can be between $50 to $800.
Cutting to the Chase
So, what knife should you use? Chef's Knife, Paring Knife, Boning Knife, Serrated Knife, or Slicing Knife?
To answer that, you need to consider the ingredient you are preparing. Your choice should also consider the result you want. Does the type of knife matter? Yes, it does! Choosing the appropriate knife for your needs will make your cooking experience better. It also helps in avoiding possible accidents in the kitchen. The taste and presentation of your meal will depend on the quality of the knife you've chosen. Just like choosing fresh and healthy ingredients, it's also best to consider the right tools for the right occasion. Trust me, it will bring out the best to your lovely meal.
A final note
We all love cooking channels and recipe books, right? Behind every slick image and tasty dish is an incredibly sharp knife. If you want your results to match, choosing the correct knife is one giant leap closer.