Chefs Knife - one of the most important tools you can invest in.
Why Start with a Good Chefs Knife?
This is where it all starts. You want to get into cooking and you are thinking, "What's the most important tool I should own?"
The answer is a good chef's knife, also called a French knife. Think of it as buying a blue chip stock. You’ll own it forever and over the years it will pay back tremendous dividends.
When you look at the chef knives on the right, you notice it has a wide triangular blade which tapers to a "center tip". The center tip just means both the back of the knife and the blade are gently sloped until they meet in a point at the tip.
This blade shape is perfect for allowing the blade to rock back and forth on the tip (fulcrum) when you are chopping, mincing and dicing. While at the same can be used to cut meat, vegetables, poultry or fish. It is a great all-around, all-purpose knife for most of your kitchen needs.
What Can You Do With A Chef's Knife
A chef's knife can be used for most cutting chores. It can be used for slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing, julienne cuts, disjointing large cuts of meat and even smashing garlic.
What To Consider When Purchasing a Chef's Knife
Buying a chef's knife is like buying any other piece of cutlery. There are certain qualities you want to be aware of before making a purchase. For example:
What type of blade? - There are many types of metal used for making knife blades. Here are a few with advantages and disadvantages:
Carbon Steel - Very tough and take a great edge but tend to discolor when they come in contact with anything acidic like tomatoes or citrus fruit. They tend to rust if not in use for a while so they must be taken care of to avoid discoloration but being sure to clean and dry them after every use.
Stainless Steel - We all know why boats use stainless steel fittings. They don't rust so taking care of them is a lot less effort. However, what you gain in usability, you loose in edge. They are difficult to keep a good sharp edge.
High carbon Stainless Steel - Ah, the best of both worlds. Tough, hold an edge and they don't discolor. A good choice for a knife blade. The carbon adds strength to stainless but also more cost.
Titanium - Much lighter than steel, holds its edge, and more wear resistant. Flexible, so it is a better choice for boning and filieting knives.
Does it have a full tang or partial?
Is the blade stamped or forged?
How heavy is the knife in your hand?
What about the knife's balance?
What kind of edge does it have?
How long should it be? - Chef's knives usually come in lengths from 6 inches to 12 inches and are about 1 inch wide. How long it should be depends on what you are going to do with it and how comfortable it feels in your hand. I personally like a 10 inch blade but I do own several in different sizes.
What Chef's Knife Would I Buy
Most of the chef's knives on the market are 6 to 10 inches long with the most popular being 8 inches. I recommend every home cook start with an 8 inch chef's knife and get used to how it feels before moving on to something bigger. At first, an 8 inch chef's knife may feel heavy and awkward in your hand but as you practice with it, it will start to feel natural.
Another choice you will have to decide on is whether you want a French or German style chef's knife. The French version has a longer and thinner blade that is better for slicing while the German style is shorter and wider and better for chopping. Just another factor to make your decision making harder.
Make sure the knife has a secure grip and a good feel in your hand, you’re looking for balance. The handle should be riveted to the blade.
Don’t skimp on this one.
Basic Knife Skills Video
Be sure to check out this amazing & informative knife skills video by my friend & author, Peter Hertzmann on how to properly hold & use a chef's knife on my Basic Knife Skills Video.