There are so many kitchen knives on the market these days, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. Do you need a chef's knife, or a paring knife? What about a slicing knife or a carving knife? In this blog post, we'll take a look at the different types of kitchen knives and help you figure out which one is best for your needs. So, what is a good kitchen knife? The answer may surprise you!!
Without being too complicated, we can say that a good kitchen knife:
- It is razor sharp knife that is comfortable to work with.
- it keeps its cutting edge sharp for a long time. The longer this time, the better. Japanese knife masters have a special concept "kirinagu" - the time during which the knife stays sharp. The right type of steel, as well as its heat treatment, must be selected in order to achieve optimum edge retention and cutting performance.
- It has the right geometry of the blade. For example, if we sharpen a metal ruler, it will be sharp but useless for cutting anything. A knife with the proper geometry is one that cuts things either under its own weight or with minimal effort. When we discuss geometry, we usually mean the line of the cutting edge, knife tip and so on.
- It has a comfortable handle that allows you to perform the same types of activities for lengthy periods without getting fatigued.
Before you buy a new kitchen knife, experienced chefs advise you to ask yourself a few questions:
- What is wrong with the kitchen knives you are currently using? (For example, your knife may be too heavy, or too narrow. Or the knife may lose its sharpness quickly, etc.) You will probably have your own answers, but they will be the ones that help you make the right choice in the future.
- What kind of knife balance do you prefer when working? (The classic weighting of a chef's knife has the balance shifted toward the tip. However, there are a large number of knives that have the balance strictly at the junction of the blade and handle, there are also models whose balance is shifted to the handle).
- What kind of knife (light, heavy, or medium) do you feel most at ease with when performing routine operations? Do you prefer to apply force when you put pressure on the knife or when you lift the knife?
- Determine the sort of handle and the material it should be made of. This is a question that any person can answer for himself. There are three basic types of handles - European, oriental (Japanese), and ergonomic. When choosing a handle from a natural material, remember that such a knife cannot be washed in a dishwasher.
- How much money are you willing to spend to buy one knife (or set of knives)? And the next question to ask yourself is - do I need this particular knife? Perfection, as you know, knows no boundaries, and even if you can afford to pay a considerable sum for a "thoroughbred" Japanese chef's knife, ask yourself again - do I need this expensive Japanese knife with complex geometry, with a blade made of high carbon stainless steel or highly hard laminated steel (which is also subject to corrosion) and a handle that you cannot wash or even wet?
- And finally, the most important question - how do you plan to keep your kitchen knife's cutting edge razor sharp?
So, you've found the answers to these questions for yourself and you're convinced that you need a new kitchen knife.
And here we come to that very stage when the opinion of one single person (yours specifically, since you are reading this blog) begins to diverge from the point of view of all civilized mankind. What is the difference? There are several competing viewpoints on how many knives should be in the house. Namely:
- A woman's view on all of this steel in your kitchen drawer.
- The opinion of professional chefs who can perform any operation with one or two knives.
- The general Western view, the mainstream, so to speak. This point of view is supported and promoted in every way by marketers of famous companies, knife bloggers, and the knife community.
Let us examine each of these points of view a little more closely.
A WOMAN'S PERSPECTIVE ON KITCHEN KNIVES
As experience shows, most of women do not realize what are the different kinds of knives, whether it is a chef's knife or pizza knife etc. They know that in the kitchen there is one handy knife with a brown handle, one with a black handle that isn't so good, and some more knives that are quite annoying and therefore aren't used. What does the woman think when you say you bought another knife? Probably something like - why would you, we already have one and it cuts quite well.
In most cases, a woman will choose a utility knife of medium length with a blade of 12-14 centimetres, a sharp tip, and a small handle to work in the kitchen. If there are several knives, in the process of searching, a woman is likely to choose the most convenient knife from her point of view and forget about the existence of the others.
THE OPINION OF PROFESSIONAL CHEFS WHO ONLY NEED ONE KNIFE
After talking to many professional chefs one can realize they can go along with only two knives. The first is a classic chef's knife, and the second is a medium-length utility knife. The chef's knife is used to do the basic work. The small all-purpose knife specializes in doing some extra work: peeling vegetables, etc.
It seems simple, but the difficulties begin when it comes to what a chef's knife is and how to choose the right one.
There are two main types of chef knife: European and Japanese knives
There are two basic knives in the Western culinary tradition. They are: CHEF's knives (German version) and FRENCH knives (French version).
There are no clear criteria by which a chef's knife may be classified as belonging to one type or another. As a rule, French chef's knife is slightly lighter, may have a sharper tip and a thinner handle. The classic European chef's knife is a product that has been shaped by various culinary schools.
This type of chef knives is as versatile as possible: the thin part of the blade near the tip is used for chopping, fine slicing, and filleting; the central part of the cutting edge is used for power work and chopping bones and tendons; the thick edge closer to the handle can be used for chopping meat or splitting ice; the wide blade is used for cleaning garlic and carrying chopped food into a bowl or a pot.
This is where we can plainly see the distinctiveness of European culture - the desire for chef's knife to have multi-purpose and versatility as the main kitchen tool.
Then, there are also Japanese chef's knife.
The main feature of Japanese knives is the characteristic convex shape of the cutting edge. As a rule, this type of chef's knife is thinner than European chef's knife, has a straight blade and a more curved handle. They cut well because their blades are extremely thin at the spine near the tip (1-2 mm).
it should be also mentioned that there are often references to the "kitchen trio" - a set of three knives that is regarded as the finest selection for those who enjoy cooking due to its features. It is recommended to include in such a set a chef's knife, a medium-length utility knife, and a small paring knife for peeling vegetables.
THE GENERAL WESTERN VIEWPOINT ON THE "MUST-HAVE" KITCHEN KNIVES
The general Western view, the mainstream, so to speak. This point of view is supported and promoted in every way by marketers of famous companies, knife bloggers, and the knife community.
You may need to have the following knives:
- paring knives
- utility knives
- chef's knives
- filleting knives
- bread knives
- cheese knives
- slicing knife
- carving knife
- sandwich knives (butter knife, caviar knife)
- pizza knives (and other frills - knives for oysters, knives for garlic)
- steak knives
- knife for frozen food
Perhaps the list could be prolonged, but we can see that there are more than 10 distinct types of kitchen knives from a quick glance. However, many of the knives on this list are contemporary creations (e.g., pizza knives), and some are even that Western society can go well even without (e.g., knife for spreading caviar on tartlets).
If you look at this list subjectively, considering your own culinary expertise, most likely the majority of people will agree that such a large number of knives is excessive and that two to four types of knives are sufficient in the kitchen.