A sharp, well balanced knife that feels good in your hand is a pleasure to work with and makes cooking that much more enjoyable…when the right knife is used properly, it really makes you feel very “cheffy”. I’ve already posted how to sharpen knives and keep them sharp, and the amazing chart below (which I totally copied from Kitchen Kapers) really helps you figure out exactly what knife to use (or buy) for the job at hand.
There is need to go crazy buying knifes. I recommend starting out with a good quality 8″ chef’s knife (the workhorse and the most important tool in your kitchen, imho), a 3″ paring knife, 5″ Tomato/Utility Knife, a 10″ serrated bread knife and a honing (sharpening) steel. Just make sure you store them properly (I love my magnetic knife holder) and you should be ready to tackle any kitchen cutting job with ease.
|Style of Knife||Shape of Knife||Ideal Job for Knife|
|2 3/4″ Peeling Knife||For peeling of all round vegetables – potatoes, onions, etc.|
|3″, 4″ Paring Knifes||For paring, peeling and slicing small fruits and vegetables.|
|5″ Tomato/Utility Knife (Serrated)||For tomatoes, salami, croissants.|
|5 1/2″ Boning Knife||For separating meat from bone, cooked and uncooked. The smaller the size of the meat (or bone) the more flexible the blade should be and vice versa.|
|5″, 6″ Utility Knives||As the name indicates, for many, but not for all cutting jobs. Peeling, slicing, chopping, carving.|
|8″, 10″ Carving/Slicing Knives||For carving medium sized roasts and fowl, cutting large vegetables, fruit.|
|6″, 8″, 10″ Chef’s Knives||For chopping and dicing. The knife handle is rocked up and down with one hand while the fingers on the other hand rest slightly on the back of the blade, towards the tip.|
|8″ Bread Knife (Serrated)||For cutting bread or any other food of soft substance with a tough skin or crust.|
|5″, 7″ Santoku Knives||For slicing and chopping. Hollow edge allows air between blade and item being cut for extra thin cutting. Unique edge must be sharpened by professional.|
|Cleaver||For chopping through joints or bones.|
|10″ Sharpening Steel||For sharpening the knives. A sharp knife will provide maximum safety. Use the sharpening steel regularly, preferably every other time the knife is used.|