If you’ve ever eaten a masterfully prepared Beef Wellington, then you’re aware that cooking is an art. On top of talent, skill and passion, this kind of art requires the best kitchen tools and implements. And for anyone passionate about cooking, the most essential kitchen tools kitchen are knives.
Of course, there are many knives out there. We’re here to help you learn and choose. There’s no need to buy one of those elaborate 30-piece knife sets – you likely won’t use half of them. Simplicity and quality are key. Therefore we are proud to present our kitchen knife guide so you will no longer hand someone a carving knife when they ask for a chef’s knife.
The workhorse of any kitchen, the all-purpose chef’s knife is absolutely essential. Ideal for just about anything you can think of, from cutting raw meat to slicing into vegetables to finely chopping herbs, a good chef’s knife can handle most of your prep. Ranging in size from 7 to 17 inches for the blade, make sure the size of knife you choose is right for you and feels comfortable to use. Don’t be afraid to spend some money on this because a quality knife will give you years of faithful service.
Also known as the vegetable knife – or as we like to call it, ‘the little knife that could’ – a paring knife is instrumental in tackling the smaller, more delicate and precise jobs that a bigger knife just can’t do. Unlike the chef’s knife that requires a cutting board under the food, a paring knife will most often be used when holding an ingredient in your hand. Perfect for peeling vegetables or fruits, removing seeds, slicing potatoes, and much more.
This knife is for raw meat still on the bone. The stiff, narrow blade is for cutting flesh off bones, including with fish, and working around joints and ligaments. In other words, it’s great for some precision butcher work. The tip is fine and sharp for making exacting holes. Your other knives simply cannot do this work.
This is your fish knife. It has a small, flexible blade that makes it so much easier to get under the skin or slice flesh away from the bone.
Don’t let the name limit your thinking. While its long, serrated edge enables you to slice through a loaf of bread without squishing it, it’s also marvelous for large fruits like pineapple and watermelon. It can even handle slicing tomatoes and other soft fruits.
While every item in our kitchen knife guide has its time and place, the carving knife has a tendency to steal the show. Long, pointed and razor sharp, it normally makes an appearance at the ‘glory times’ of slicing up roast meats. If it’s kept sharp, it will ease even slices of meat smoothly away with little effort.
Speaking of sharp… a knife is nothing if it isn’t sharp. Well, actually a honing steel doesn’t sharpen a knife in the technical sense of the word. It realigns the beveled edge of a knife so that it performs properly and reduces wrist strain, because that knife edge will start to fold over on itself with repeated use. It’s up to you to choose steel, ceramic or even diamond for your honing tool. They’re all good.
That’s our simple kitchen knife guide. With these items, you’ll have every need and dish covered. If you like, go to a store and ask to try out the feel of different brands. Just be sure you always go for quality knives, don’t put them in the dishwasher, don’t drop them in the sink (they’ll get dinged), and keep them well honed.
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