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Are you ready to slice and dice your way to culinary greatness? It's time to take your knife skills to the next level. No more clumsy butter-knife-chopping on your cutting board. It's time to unleash your inner chef and conquer that pile of veggies like a pro. But wait, what's that you say? You're not sure which type of knife to use for your chop and slice extravaganza? Well, fear not! We've got your back. Whether it's a mighty chef's knife or a nifty paring knife, we'll guide you through the slicing jungle. So, put on your apron and get ready to impress your taste buds. Say goodbye to dull blades and hello to a world of precision and finesse. It's about time you show those onions who's boss. Get ready to rock your knife skills!
The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
When it comes to kitchen knives, it seems like there’s a blade for every possible task. But in fact, all you really need is three trusty knives that will slice through any culinary challenge with ease:
First up you have the Chef’s Knife, the workhorse of the kitchen. With its versatile blade, you’ll be able to tackle everything from dicing onions to mincing garlic. If you’re looking for a new Chef knife, we love the Kai Pro Santoku 7", an Asian style, all-purpose knife certified to be used in commercial kitchens and loved by home chefs!
Next, we have the serrated knife, perfect for cutting through crusty breads and delicate tomatoes without squishing them into a sad, soggy mess.
And last but not least, the paring knife, ideal for tackling smaller tasks like peeling an apple or removing the seeds from a squash. The paring knife is a small, narrow knife with a pointed tip. It is great for peeling and paring fruits and vegetables, as well as making small, precise cuts.
Choose the right cutting board for the job
Ah, the beloved cutting board. The unsung hero of the culinary world. You may think that any old piece of wood will do, but oh, how wrong you are. Choosing the right cutting board is like finding the perfect dance partner for your knife. You need a board that will stay steady and won't go sliding around the kitchen. And let's not forget about the knife. It needs a surface that won't dull its edge too fast. So, my dear chefs, when it comes to selecting the right chopping buddy, opt for a sturdy and durable cutting board. A wooden board is perfect for slicing your veggies with finesse, while a plastic board will take on the challenge of slicing up your favorite meat without any fuss. Invest wisely, my friends, and let your culinary skills shine on the right cutting stage.
How to Hold a Knife Properly: 3 Fundamentals
Holding a knife properly is a fundamental skill that can make or break your culinary prowess. Picture this: you're standing at your cutting board, ready to conquer the world of chopping, mincing, and squashing. But oh no! Your grip on the knife is as unwieldy as a toddler on roller skates. So let me teach you the three fundamentals of holding a knife like a professional chef.
First things first: find the flat side of your knife. Now, I know what you're thinking. How can a knife have a flat side? Well, my friend, it's simple. Flip your knife over and there it is, as flat as a pancake. Why, you ask? Because the flat side is going to go against your cutting board, helping to keep your knife steady and preventing it from waltzing off the table. Trust me, you don't want that.
Next, let's talk about the knife grip, your fingers around the handle. Gently wrap your fingers around the handle, creating a firm but comfortable grip.
Lastly, my determined kitchen warrior, let's discuss the position of your fingertips and knuckles. Your fingertips should rest on the back of the knife, acting as a guide for your blade. And your knuckles? Well, they should be towering above your fingertips. This not only gives you better control over your knife, but also prevents any unfortunate incidents.
With these three fundamentals, you'll be holding a knife like a professional chef in no time. Just remember, practice makes perfect, so don't lose hope if your first attempts are a bit... choppy.
Knife Skills Every Culinary Artist Should Have
We've curated a list of knife skills, painstakingly ranked from the least challenging to the holy grail of slicing techniques, to help you on your epicurean adventure. Oh, and don't forget the golden rule: always wield a sharp blade and handle it with the utmost TLC – safety first, my friends!
Chopping is the most basic knife skill there is. It simply involves cutting food into smaller pieces. A chef's knife is the most versatile tool for this job, but a paring knife can also be used for small, delicate items.
To chop an ingredient, start by placing it on a cutting board. Hold the knife with a relaxed grip and position your fingers on the handle as if you were shaking hands with it. Use a rocking motion to chop the ingredient into smaller pieces, keeping your fingers curled under to protect them.
Pro tip: Chopping is easier if you first cut the ingredient into slices or planks, then chop those into smaller pieces.
Dicing involves cutting food into small, uniform cubes. This technique is often used for vegetables, but it can also be used for fruits and meats. A chef's knife is the best tool for this job, but a paring knife can also be used for smaller items.
To dice an ingredient, start by chopping it into small pieces as described above. Then, make a series of horizontal cuts, turning the ingredient as you go. Finally, make a series of vertical cuts to create small, uniform cubes.
Pro tip: To ensure uniform pieces, try to keep the size of your initial chop consistent. You can also use a straight edge as a guide to help you make even cuts.
Julienning involves cutting food into long, thin strips, usually about the size of a matchstick. This technique is often used for vegetables, but it can also be used for fruits and meats. A chef's knife or a mandoline slicer is the best tool for this job.
To julienne an ingredient, start by cutting it into thin slices. Then, stack the slices and make a series of thin cuts to create long, thin strips. Alternatively, you can use a mandoline slicer to achieve perfectly uniform julienned pieces.
Pro tip: To get perfectly uniform julienned pieces, use a mandoline slicer or a julienne peeler. Keep your fingers away from the blade and use the food holder provided to keep them safe.
Mincing involves cutting food into very small, fine pieces, usually about the size of grains of rice. This technique is often used for herbs, garlic, and onions. A chef's knife or a mezzaluna are the best tools for this job.
To mince an ingredient, start by dicing it as finely as possible. Then, hold the knife with a relaxed grip and use a rocking motion to finely chop the ingredient into even smaller pieces. Alternatively, you can use a mezzaluna – a crescent-shaped knife with a rocking motion – to mince ingredients.
Pro tip: To make mincing even easier, try freezing the ingredient first. This will make it easier to chop and prevent it from sticking to the knife.
Peeling and Paring
Peeling and paring involve removing the skin or outer layer of a fruit or vegetable, and can be done with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler.
To peel a fruit or vegetable, start by cutting off one end and then using the paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin in a downward motion. Be sure to follow the contours of the fruit or vegetable to remove as little of the edible flesh as possible.
Pro tip: For difficult-to-peel items like ginger, try using the edge of a spoon to scrape off the skin.
This is a technique used for leafy vegetables and herbs, where they are cut into long, thin strips. The elegance of chiffonade lies in its simplicity and the beauty it brings to a dish. This technique differs from basic chopping or mincing as it maintains the structure of the leaves, preventing bruising and retaining their vibrant color and flavor. A basil chiffonade on a fresh tomato mozzarella salad, for example, can make the dish pop with flavor and visual appeal. Chiffonade is mainly used for herbs that have flat leaves, but would be difficult to use with irregular herbs like coriander or parsley. It can also be used with larger leafy vegetables like spinach or collard greens, adding a sophisticated touch to your dishes. For chiffonade, a very sharp chef’s knife is key. At Kookio we love the Kai Pro Santoku 7”, an Asian style all purpose kitchen knife.
The Supreme technique involves delicately separating the juicy flesh of citrus fruits from their peel and membranes, resulting in pristine segments of pure citrus goodness.
Apart from being an impressive skill, the Supreme technique brings a burst of fresh flavors and vibrant colors to your dishes. Whether used in a salad, a dessert, or as a garnish for your main course, Supremed citrus fruits never fail to add a touch of elegance and a burst of freshness to your dishes.
This technique is all about separating bone from meat, usually in poultry or small game. Basic knife skills teach you how to cut, but deboning teaches you how to feel. It's about understanding the structure of the animal, finding the seams between flesh and bone, and utilizing your knife to follow these natural pathways. It's an intricate process, but once mastered, it can lead to a whole new world of culinary possibilities. For example, a well-deboned chicken is a blank canvas for stuffing or rolling, creating a dish that not only tastes fantastic but also looks impressive. Beyond poultry, this knife skill applies to other types of meat as well, like beef or pork, opening up opportunities for crafting elegant dishes like a stuffed beef roast or deboned rack of lamb. At Kookio we love the Kai Pro Boning Fillet 6.5”, it is a versatile knife that features a narrow, sharp and curved blade that is perfect for separating meat from the bone, and its size is also perfect for fileting, which leads us to the next point.
Primarily used for fish, filleting is a delicate art that separates the flesh from the bones in two smooth cuts, resulting in boneless pieces ready for cooking. Filleting differs from basic fish preparation as it requires a special kind of knife (a fillet knife) and a certain finesse to preserve the integrity of the flesh. It's a knife skill that can enhance the quality of your dishes while reducing waste. After all, buying whole fish is often cheaper and fresher than pre-cut fillets. Beyond economic reasons, filleting allows you to explore different styles of cooking. For example, a well-filleted fish can be pan-seared for a crispy skin, used in a ceviche where the integrity of the fish is crucial, or even used for sushi if you're adventurous enough. If you love the outdoors, we recommend the 7” Stowaway Folding Fileting Knife, it fits perfectly in travel bags and it is made of stainless steel to provide tough resistance to corrosion.
Other Types of Useful Knives
If you want to keep growing your knife collection, here are other types of knives that can be very useful in the kitchen:
Mandoline slicer: The mandoline slicer is a kitchen gadget with adjustable blades that allows for uniform slicing and julienning of fruits and vegetables. It is a quick and easy way to achieve perfectly thin and evenly sized slices.
Mezzaluna: The mezzaluna is a crescent-shaped knife with a rocking motion that is great for mincing herbs and other small ingredients. It is a quick and easy way to achieve a fine chop.
Vegetable peeler: The vegetable peeler is a simple kitchen tool with a sharp blade used for peeling the skin off of fruits and vegetables. It is a quick and easy way to remove the outer layer of produce.
Fileting knife/boning knife: The fileting knife is a thin, flexible knife with a sharp point and straight edge that is great for removing bones and skin from fish. It is also useful for slicing raw fish for sushi and sashimi. These are great fileting knife options:Messermeister 6” Chef Folding Fillet Knife, theKai Pro 6.5" Boning Fillet Knife and the7” Stowaway Folding Fillet Knife
Here are some tips for using these knives correctly:
Always use a sharp knife to ensure clean, precise cuts and to reduce the risk of accidents.
Hold the knife with a relaxed grip and use a rocking motion to chop ingredients.
Keep your fingers curled under to protect them while chopping.
Use the food holder provided with a mandolin slicer to keep your fingers safe.
When using a mezzaluna, rock the blade back and forth over the ingredient to achieve a fine chop.
When using a vegetable peeler, hold the fruit or vegetable in one hand and the peeler in the other, and use a downward motion to remove the skin.
When boning or fileting, use a sharp knife and handle the meat or fish gently to avoid tearing it.
How to choose the correct knives?
There are many different qualities to consider when choosing a knife, such as the material of the blade, the handle, and the overall construction. Here are some things to consider:
Blade material: Knives can be made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel, carbon steel, ceramic, and high carbon stainless steel. Each type of material has its own unique properties and benefits, such as durability, corrosion resistance, and sharpness.
Handle material: The handle of a knife can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal. It is important to choose a handle that is comfortable to hold and provides a secure grip.
Construction: The overall construction of a knife is important for its durability and performance. Look for knives with a full tang (where the blade extends into the handle) for added strength and balance.
How to Sharpen and Care for Kitchen Knives
Sharpening your knife is essential for any cook or chef, whether you are a professional in a bustling kitchen or a home cook in a small apartment. A sharp knife not only makes your cutting tasks easier and more efficient, but it also reduces the risk of accidents. To keep knives sharp, it is important to understand the importance of regular maintenance. Dull knives are not only frustrating to work with but can also be dangerous, as they require more pressure and can easily slip. Professional chefs know the significance of keeping their knives sharp and invest in professional sharpening services when needed. However, for home cooks, there are various methods to sharpen their knives at home, such as using a manual sharpener or a honing steel. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to maintain the sharpness of your knives regularly to ensure safe and efficient cutting in the kitchen.
So there you have it – a beginner's guide to knife skills! With a little practice, you'll be chopping, dicing, julienning, mincing, peeling, paring, boning, and fileting like a pro in no time. Just remember to always use a sharp knife and handle it with care for the best and safest results.
Chop, slice, and conquer!