In a culinary sense, you are only as good as the ingredients and equipment you use in preparing the dish is partly true. You must also have the time, patience and some understanding of the widespread dimension that encompasses the culinary world. For instance, choosing the right knife for the job and ensuring you have all the necessary knives as well to make the job not only more efficient and easier, but safer along the way.
The knife has been around for over two and a half million years and will continue to be used as religious implements, tools, weapons and as an integral utensil in the culinary world. Today, knives are either fixed blade or folding(pocket knife) and can be serrated or smooth construction. As far as the composition of knife blades is concerned, they can possess a high carbon content which allows the blade to hold its edge well, is very sharp and is easy to sharpen. The main draw back to these carbon knives is the fact that they can rust easy and stains are hard to remove. Stainless steel blades are another style that retards rust and stains easier than the carbon knives, however, the blades are not able to be as sharp as the carbon blades. High carbon stainless steel blades are the best of both worlds that retard rusting and staining and are able to hold an edge for an extended period of time before sharpening, and are very sharp. Steel blades are usually forged, which is a process where the steel is heated at extreme temperatures so that the steel can be molded with a press or hammer. Occasionally you may encounter a stock blade which is nothing more than a blade constructed by grinding or removing steel to form the blade. Both processes require further heating to quench the blade, hardening it and then tempering it to reduce stress points and make the blade tougher. Forging steel blade knives tend to be associated with more expensive knife companies or higher end knife price points lines.
When it comes to selecting the right knife for a particular job, you have to be considerate of the many types of blades available in the food preparation, cutlery and dining areas. Basically, each knife blade style is responsible for one or more tasks. however, having said this not all blades are effective at the same task which is why numerous knife styles are optimal as well as the knowledge of each blade style being understood. For instance, a paring knife is a great knife for coring and peeling vegetables like potatoes and fruits. Using a paring knife to spread frosting, or cut meat or bread is not a viable option. Other knife styles are better suited for these tasks. A serrated blade that accompanies bread knives is ideal for slicing breads, pastries and cakes due to its sawing motion allowing for a smoother and neater cut. Have you ever tried to slice a fresh hot loaf of bread with a chef’s knife? It ends up looking like a pancake and not very eye appealing either. Using a serrated bread knife will allow the bread to remain full and neatly sliced. Presentation is a big part of culinary creations.
Their are roughly five main styles of culinary knives which are the bread, chef’s, boning, paring and Santoku knives. Each is responsible for unique tasks and using the dedicated knife for that job will not only make life easier but can also be safer as well. Bread knives are strictly used for just that, slicing breads, danishes and pastries. A chef’s knife is for carving and slicing larger cuts of meat, however, a chef’s knife can also be used to mince, slice and chop. This is a rather large knife with a blade ranging from 8″-14″ long, making this type of knife more cumbersome than by using a Japanese style Santoku knife. The Santoku knife consists of a blade that is usually 5″-8″ long with a sheepsfoot blade and is excellent when working with fish, poultry, vegetables and herbs. A boning knife is a sharp, narrow blade utensil that is efficient and effective when trying to remove bones from fish, poultry and beef especially.
When deciding on the right knife set to purchase, don’t succumb to cheap alternatives, though you also don’t need to spend $100.00 on an optimal Wusthof or J.A. Henckels knife either. Chicago Cutlery, Kitchen aid and Faberware represent a fine line of cutlery suitable for the job without having to spend a lot of money. Martha Stewart, Giada and Rachel Ray, synonymous with the food network even have their own cutlery line available at select outlets.
Proper feel and comfort is important when choosing knives. You will want to hold the knife for feel and control. Wood, stainless steel, plastic, rubber or micarta handles each offer unique advantages and disadvantages.
I think you get the picture now. There are different sizes and blade styles, each dedicated to performing specialized tasks. Because of this it is ideal to purchase a multiple ensemble of knives so that you don’t find yourself being tempted to perform a job with an unsuitable knife style. The best way that I can compare this is to tools. Wrenches, screwdrivers, tap and dies and pliers each perform their own tasks and mechanics will possess each of these in their tool boxes for multiple tasks. The same holds true with cutlery.
Like anything else, research before you buy and possibly get an unbiased and second opinion before selecting the right cutlery equipment.