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You only really need 4 knives
If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, you can easily find yourself spending a small fortune on knives that you never use. Choose wisely, however, and your knives become the most must-have tools in your kitchen and last you a lifetime.
Do not go for all the sales pitches that try to convince you that it is a pipe dream to think you are able to make good food at home unless you buy a block made up of at least half a dozen unlike styles of blades and a few steak knives just in case. The good news is you really only need the following knives to take on just about any task in the kitchen.
In cooking, a chef’s knife, also known as a French knife or a cook’s knife, is a cutting tool used in getting food ready. The chef’s knife was first designed for the most part to slice and disjoint large cuts of beef. Today it is the chief general-utility knife for most Western cooks.
A chef’s knife generally has a blade eight inches in length and 11⁄2 inches in width. Models range from 6 to 14 inches in length. There are two common types of blade shape, French and German. German-style knives are more deeply and continuously curved along the whole cutting edge; the French style has an edge that is straighter until the end and then curves up to the tip. Neither style is better than the other; personal taste dictates the choice.
A modern chef’s knife is a utility knife made to perform well at many of your kitchen tasks, rather than shining at any one in general. It can be used for mincing, slicing, and chopping vegetables, slicing meat, and disjointing large cuts.
Not long ago, a Japanese development of the chef’s knife, the santoku (literally: “three good things”), a general-purpose utility knife, has also gained popularity in the West. The santoku is for the most part designed for cutting fish, vegetables, and boneless or lightly boned meats such as chicken. The santoku features a sheepsfoot blade with a spine that drops sharply to meet the hardened, acutely ground cutting edge. It gives the most control, because the dull back edge is made to be held by fingers.
The single most important knife you will ever buy. It can be used for everything from slicing and chopping vegetables to cutting joints of meat.
Designed to be an all-purpose knife, like a chef’s knife, but smaller. Even though it looks like a small type of a chef’s knife, its use is not the same.
A paring knife is a small knife with a plain edge blade (usually around 4 inches long). It is another need to have, particularly for complex or fiddly tasks, like peeling fruits and vegetables, sectioning citrus, removing the seeds from a jalapeño, ‘skinning’ mushrooms, cutting small garnishes, peeling fruits and vegetables; slicing a single garlic clove or shallot; controlled, precise cutting, such as cutting shapes or vents into dough; and scoring designs and patterns on surfaces of food. Use it for any job that calls for exact and fine work.
Unlike the chef’s knife, which is always used on a cutting board, you can cut with the paring knife while holding it aloft, as though it is a part of your hand. The small handle gives you a high degree of control over the tip and the edge of the blade.
Three More Tasks for a Paring Knife
Hull strawberries: Use the tip of the knife to remove the stem and carve out the white centre core from the stem end of each berry.
Section an orange or lemon: Hold the fruit over a bowl to catch-all the juice that drips down. Peel the fruit to the flesh, then cut between the white membranes to extract each section. Because you hold the fruit as you cut it, this job is much safer when carried out with a paring knife than with a chef’s knife.
Devein shrimp: Cut a shallow slit down the outside curve of the shrimp; remove the dark vein, and rinse the shrimp under cold water.
It’s the one that the bad guy is always using on the good guy in the movies.
This is a much wider knife (usually around 6 to 8 inches long and about 3 inches wide) and is particularly vital if you joint meat at home and do not want to dull or damage the edge of your expensive chef’s knife. I use it all the time to joint poultry, saving money on buying pre-jointed pieces at the supermarket.
A cleaver is a large knife that varies in its shape but usually resembles a rectangular-bladed hatchet. It is used mostly for hacking through bones as a kitchen knife or butcher knife. The tough metal and thick blade of a cleaver also make it a great tool for crushing with the side of the blade. This contrasts with certain hard, thin slicing knives, which should not be used for crushing because they can crack under such repeated stress.
In contrast to other kitchen knives, the cleaver has a very tough edge meant to withstand repeated blows directly into thick meat and dense cartilage and even bone, not to mention the cutting board or other supporting surface below. This ability to spring back is achieved by using a softer steel and a thicker blade, because a harder steel and a thinner blade can fracture with ease.
In comparison to all other kitchen tools but one, a meat tenderizer, it is the only one made to be swung like a hammer.
The edge of a meat cleaver does not need to be very sharp, because the knife’s design, like that of a hatchet or an axe, relies on sheer force to cut efficiently, to slash straight through rather than slicing in a sawing motion. Part of the power derives from how hard you swing, of course, and the other part derives from how heavy the cleaver is.
A knife-sharp edge on a cleaver is not wanted because it would quickly become more blunt than it would if it were less sharp but strong to begin with. The grind of Eastern Asian kitchen knives is 15–18 degrees, and for most Western kitchen knives it is 20–22°. But for a meat cleaver it is even blunter, more like 25°.
Cleavers are mostly used for cutting through thin or soft bones and sinew, or through hard vegetables such as squash, where twisting may chip or shatter a slicing blade. For example, a cleaver is well-suited to cutting apart a chicken, which has thin bones, or separating ribs.
Cleavers are not used for cutting through thick, hard bones – instead, one employs a bone saw, either manual or powered.
Also called a boning knife is a type of kitchen knife with a sharp point and narrow blade.
The blade is usually shallower than the tang. These traits give the filet knife first-rate mobility when being used to filet cuts of meat or fish, allowing it to steer around bones. This also aids in removing the skin from fish by letting the user flex the blade along the countertop. Filet knives are for the most part kept very sharp in order to keep down the amount of damage the edge does.
It is used in food preparation for taking out the bones of poultry, meat, and fish. Generally 5 to 6 ½ inches in length (although many brands, such as Samoan Cutlery, have been known to extend out up to 9 ½ inches) it features a very narrow blade. These knives are not as “thick” as some of other popular kitchen/butcher knives, as this makes precision boning, in deep cuts and holes, much less difficult. A stiff boning knife is good for boning beef and pork, but a very flexible boning knife is preferred for poultry and fish.
Some designs feature an arched blade that adds to the ease of a single pass cut in removing fish from its flesh.
Once you master the method of using it, it will save you a fortune on buying pre-prepared items from the supermarket.
How To Use Me
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