A knife is a chef’s best friend. With a good knife, a chef can prepare just about any dish. In fact, a lot of the tools that are utilised in a kitchen are those that simply do the work of a knife in the hands of a talented chef. For example, a mandolin that slices vegetables incredibly thinly and consistently is a great tool, but a chef with a steady hand can do the same work. A mandolin does it more quickly, but the knife is still the ultimate tool because it has so many uses. That’s why a knife is so important to a kitchen. Picking the right knife or collection of knives is incredibly important. Chef’s knives tend to fall into three different categories, each with advantages and disadvantages. Some chefs like to pick one main knife for all of their cooking. Others like to pick different knives for different purposes.
The German-style knife is very popular in the UK, the US, and with chefs all around the world. It is a long, heavy knife with a thick spine. The knife has a lot of weight on the blade and a lot of weight on the back edge. It comes to a very sharp point with a dramatic taper from the heel of the blade to the tip. For these reasons, the knife is very good at chopping. It is very heavy and has a dramatic angle to the blade. Knives work best when they are moving in two directions at once, so a knife with an angle does a lot of the tough work for you.
If you are cutting through meat, large melons, or cubing a tough butternut squash, a German-style knife might be the best choice. They’re great for creating the rocking motion that cuts through food very quickly and evenly. They’re one of the most common chef’s utensils in any kitchen.
French-style chef’s knives are not quite as heavy or as curved. Their blades are not as wide as those of German knives. They tend to come to a very sharp point, but their blades are straighter than German knives. This means you can’t rock them back and forth as easily when chopping, but it gives you much more control when your knife is down on the cutting board. They’re great for the sort of fine control that French cooking demands. If you’re doing a lot of julienning, chiffonading, or slicing, a French-style knife is probably your best bet. They’re a little more precise than other kinds of knives.
Japanese-style knives, also known as Santoku knives, are a little lighter. They have boxy blades with very thin spines. They’re lightweight and manoeuvrable for quick work. They’re not as heavy as German or French knives, which means they get dull a little bit easier. It also means they’re incredibly sharp. Santoku knives are great for chopping. They’re also great for any chef that has smaller hands.
A great knife is an absolutely indispensable utensil in your kitchen.