There is an overwhelming number of knives you can buy off the market. Each is designed to cut through different ingredients and surfaces. But the problem is that if you’re not well-versed in knife language, you will have difficulty distinguishing which to buy. If you’re new to cooking, making this decision can be intimidating. However, if you’re only getting into cooking as a hobby and not professionally, there are only three knives you need.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of knife types, it’s best to know that choosing a knife is like choosing a pair of shows. Other than considering its functionality, you should also consider if it feels awkward in your hands.
Here are the three types of knives you should consider purchasing:
1. Chef’s Knife
Chef’s knives are the most used and common knives of the three. You can use this knife to slice and chop just about any item. A chef’s knife can carve a roast and break down a watermelon. It is considered a staple in every kitchen.
2. Serrated knife
Serrated knives are commonly known as bread knives. They are styled to slice through food with a thicker and more resistant exterior and a softer interior. A serrated knife’s saw-like appearance cuts through food that has resistant outer surfaces efficiently. A serrated knife’s saw-like appearance effectively cuts through food with resistant outer surfaces. It breaks down the tough exterior before smoothly cutting through the inner surface. It’s commonly used to slice pastry, cake, and citrus fruits.
The serrated design is so efficient that it can still slice even when the blade becomes dull. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sharpen serrated edges. Like other knives, a serrated knife must be regularly sharpened for maintenance.
3. Paring knife
Paring knives are best used for tasks that require fine details and precision. They work best for peeling cooked potatoes, deveining shrimps, segmenting citrus, or cutting berries. This type of knife is also perfect for mincing peppers or onions, trimming ribs from peppers, or hulling strawberries.
Once you’ve grown familiar with the types of knives and what they’re used for, you can start practicing and learning more about chopping and knife techniques. Firstly, to ensure that you’re working in a safe setting, make sure your cutting board is stable and not moving. You can secure your board by placing a damp cloth under it.
This is an important procedure to do, as a moving board doesn’t only affect the precision of your slices but can also cause spillage and injuries.
When it comes to holding knives, it’s common sense to hold them securely and adequately. Larger knives, such as the chef’s knives and the serrated knives, require holding them using the pinch grip. This is when your thumb and index hold the part of the blade close to the handle, while the rest hold the handle with full grip. As for smaller knives like the paring knife, you hold it with a full grip close to the blade.
When discussing knife safety, one important factor to consider is good techniques in handling one. There are three main techniques: the bridge, the claw, and the cross chop.
1. The Bridge
When you need to cut ingredients into smaller pieces, you need to form a bridge over it with your hand. Firstly, you need to make sure the ingredient is laid flat on your board. Place your thumb on one side and the rest of your fingers on the other. Make sure your hand is forming a high arch, so there’s room for the knife to move. Position the knife under your bridge and cut through the ingredient by pressing down and sliding the knife out.
2. The Claw
Use this technique if you need to slice ingredients into thin strips. Like the previous technique, lay your ingredient flat-side down. Form your hands to a claw by partly curling your fingers together, making sure your fingers and thumb are curled out of the way. Rest the curled part of your hand on top of your ingredient, with your fingers facing the knife. Slice through the ingredient while keeping the tip of the knife on the board.
3. Cross Chop
If you want to finely chop vegetables and herbs, you should learn this technique. Start by cutting your vegetables into smaller pieces using the techniques above. Then hold the knife in one hand, with its tip on the board and its body angled. Rest the fingers of your other hand on the top of the edge. Slice through your ingredient while keeping the tip on the board. Raise and lower the handle without moving the tip, so it chops whatever is under it.
Lastly, handle knives with caution. In the kitchen, your hands are your gift. Don’t be hasty, especially if you’re still a beginner in the kitchen. You can take quick pauses in between chopping to make sure your fingers aren’t on the way.