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Tuesday July 18, 2006 5:30 am

There’s Nothing Like a Good Knife

Posted by Janie Franz Categories: Utensils,

KnivesEvery chef will tell you that you have to have the right tools to cook with, and a good set of knives is essential. If you can’t afford a complete assortment and a wooden knife block, buy a good paring knife, a chef’s knife (sometimes called a cook’s knife or a French knife), and a slicer.  The paring knife should be small enough to fit into the hand comfortably but big enough to do the job it’s intended for. A slicer usually has a long, thin blade and is used to cut cooked meats and poultry. It is sometimes called a carving knife.

A chef’s knife has a wider blade than the slicer and can range from six to twelve inches long.  It is usually heavy and used to cut food by rocking on the pointed end and slicing downward. Smaller chef’s are great for chopping small fruits and vegetables and herbs, and larger blades may be used for bigger items.  For most people, an 8 inch or a 10 inch chef’s knife is the ideal size. It’s big enough to attack a variety of foods yet is not unwieldily. Some home cooks prefer the 10 inch blade because it has enough weight and length to go after celery and carrots and make short work of them.

Serrated knives, called Japanese Santoku knives, are good, especially for the cook who uses a chef’s knife like a cleaver.  These knives, however, are difficult to keep sharp. Though they will retain their edge initially for a long time without having to use a steel, the serrations make it difficult to sharpen. The only exception is the bread knife which is serrated but does not wear down as much because it saws through soft surfaces.

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