The overview decides. With all the different types of knives, you first need to know which one is suitable for what. Then there is the choice: Which variant is important in addition to the chef’s knife, the basis of every well-equipped kitchen? Here you can find out everything you need to know.
The chef’s knife – your basic equipment
Of course, if you had to choose one kitchen knife, you would want one that could chop, weigh and slice, one that could work with meat and fish as well as vegetables. All of this is possible with the chef’s knife, the universal knife for your kitchen, so to speak, which every professional chef also has in their repertoire.
Its blade usually measures 20 cm, although there are also variants with 16 or even 25 cm. In addition, it is more massive, rigid, and heavier than other types, which in turn balances the knife accurately. Above all, that is important. Because a well-balanced chef’s knife makes your work much easier. Another characteristic is the slightly curved shape of the blade, which enables rocking cuts.
At the same time, there are different styles, with the main difference being European and Asian. The former are a little heavier, and also remain relatively constant with a blade length of around 20 cm. Japanese chef’s knives, also known as santoku, are usually a little shorter and also have a slightly less intensely curved cutting edge, which is still suitable for rocking cuts. In addition, their steel is usually a little harder, and the cut is also very homogeneous. A special type of knife is the Duo Dao, the Chinese cleaver, which with its almost rectangular shape is almost reminiscent of an axe.
Which knives should not be missing in any kitchen?
Anyone who cooks regularly cannot avoid a professional basic set of knives. Quality equipment contributes to a safer and easier cooking experience. For starters, it is sufficient to acquire a basic set of five knives. This consists of a paring knife, a paring knife, a meat knife, a chef’s knife, and a bread knife.
For cleaning fruit and vegetables, a paring knife should be part of the basic knife equipment. This is a small knife with a short blade about five to ten centimeters long. The cutting edge is straight, the spine is slightly curved – the knife sits comfortably in the hand for peeling and chopping vegetables and other cooking ingredients, for example when preparing stews or salads.
A meat knife can be recognized by its long, narrow, and sharp blade. It can be used to cut up raw and roasted meat, fillet fish, or remove bones from a raw piece of meat. With its upwardly curved tip, the carving knife can be easily guided along the edge of a bone when filleting.
A chef’s knife is also part of the basic equipment in the kitchen. This tool, also known as a cleaver, is characterized by its slightly curved blade of up to 20 centimeters in length. The large knife can be used to chop up harder types of vegetables such as carrots or celery, and the chef’s knife is also suitable for quickly chopping herbs, nuts, or chocolate. The cutting works with rocking movements: the tip of the knife stays on the cutting board while you quickly move the cutting edge up and down.
In contrast to the other tools in the basic knife equipment, which has a smooth blade, the bread knife can be recognized by its long, sawn, or wavy cutting edge. With this grind, a bread knife easily cuts through the crust of bread but also helps to cut tomatoes and other pressure-sensitive vegetables more easily.
In order to peel apples or potatoes more easily, it is worth buying a paring knife with a short, curved blade as the last piece of basic knife equipment. Alternatively, a peeler with a moveable blade and spacer can be used. In contrast to the knife, apples and the like can be peeled more evenly without losing too much flesh.
Important knife types – chop, carve, peel
You can get quite far with a chef’s knife. However, there are jobs for which other variants are somewhat better suited. In principle, therefore, other knives should not be missing in any kitchen, such as the carving, peeling, or paring knife and the serrated knife. You can also get other variants for more special cuts. Each brings its own qualities with it:
The carving knife is similar to the chef’s knife in length but not the width of the blade. It is significantly narrower and also tapers to a point to slide through meat better, which is why it is also known as a carving knife. Around 3 cm blade width is normal.
You need a boning knife if you want to prepare meat and poultry yourself. Its blade is narrow and slightly curved, so it glides easily along bones, which you can then easily remove.
The bread knife is characterized by its long, narrow blade with a wavy edge. The special grind prevents the blade from flaking and the knife from becoming blunt if it comes into regular contact with hard bread crusts. There are now shorter versions.
The tomato knife is based a little on the bread knife, although the serrated edge is executed in tiny jags. In addition, it is significantly shorter. Normally, the blade measures a good 10 cm. The saw teeth, on the other hand, allow you to cut through the smooth skin of tomatoes in a targeted manner without slipping.
The paring knife is not big. It has a sharp, slightly curved blade that looks a bit like a beak. This helps when cutting fruit and vegetables, which is why this type of knife is also known as a tournament knife.
The paring knife is one of the smaller types of knives. Normally, its fine, narrow blade is not even 10 cm long. The cutting edge is slightly curved and smooth.
Use the ham knife when you want to cut meat into thin slices. It is ideal for Serrano or Parma ham, but also for salmon. Its blade is narrower and longer than that of a chef’s knife – the slicing knife is up to 26 cm – and is very pointed. At the same time, it is very sharp and is therefore also suitable for filleting fish.
Maintain and store all types of knives properly
Sharp knives not only simplify kitchen work, they also increase safety. Instead of slipping and possibly cutting your fingers or hand, you guide the tool safely through the cuttings. Rinse your knives under warm water and then dry them immediately. Because moisture affects the material.
For storage, avoid the cutlery drawer afterward. Rather use a knife block or a magnetic strip that your knives stick to. You can also protect individual variants with a blade protector. It is also suitable if you want to take your chef’s knife with you to your holiday home or camping holiday, for example.
You should also only cut on material-friendly surfaces. Hard surfaces of steel, stone, or glass clog the knife’s steel and dull it. Wood or plastic is therefore the much better choice. If the blade is then blunt, the sharpening steel is no longer sufficient. It just helps keep your knives sharper longer. You can sharpen them using a sharpening stone, with the expert achieving the best results.