Cutlery: Choosing The Right Knife for the Right Job
Not all kitchen knives are created equal! There are many different kitchen cutlery knives available, each of which suits a specific purpose and function. Read on to learn more about choosing the right knife for each job in the kitchen.
Also known as a French knife or a cook’s knife, a chef’s knife is an all-purpose knife used for a variety of chopping, slicing, and mincing chores – it’s the first knife you need in the kitchen! Most commonly eight inches, its blade is curved to allow the cook to rock the knife on the cutting board for a more precise cut. The broad and heavy blade also serves for chopping bone instead of a cleaver, making it the all-purpose heavy knife for food preparation. Most cutlery knife sets will always include a chef’s knife.
As can be deduced by its name, a bread knife is for slicing bread. It has a long serrated blade that allows you to effectively cut soft bread without crushing it. Bread knives are usually around six to ten inches in length, with the most common length being nine inches. A bread knife with a triangular tip is best for bread slicing.
A boning knife is used to separate raw meat from the bone it is attached to. The blade of a boning knife, is thinner and shorter than the blade of a chef’s knife to allow for more precise boning, especially in deep cuts and holes. It is about six inches long, and is usually rigid. A stiff boning knife is good for pork and beef, while a flexible one is preferred for fish and poultry.
Used for chopping, cleavers are often heavy enough to cut through bones. The knife is designed with a heavy blade that is thick from the spine to almost the edge to allow the user to cut with a swift stroke without cracking, bending, or splintering the blade. A cleaver has a rectangular blade and varies in size according to its intended use. Many cleavers have a hole in the end to allow them to be easily hung on a rack.
Used for filleting fish, this knife is similar in shape and size to a boning knife, however it is thinner and with a more flexible blade to allow it to move easily under the skin and along the backbone of fish. Fillet knives usually range from six to 11 inches.
Designed to be an all-purpose knife, like a smaller version of a chef’s knife, a paring knife features a plain edge blade that is ideal for peeling and other small or intricate work.
A true Japanese Santoku knife features a straighter edge than a chef’s knife, and is generally lighter and thinner than its Western counterparts. Well-balanced and normally flat-ground, the blade is exceptionally hard with an acute cutting angle that allows the user to easily slice vegetables, fish, and boneless meats.
A slicing knife is generally used for slicing cooked meat, but it is also suitable for food such as smoked salmon. Slicing knives have a long blade with a round or pointed tip. The blade may be flexible or rigid and may be taper-ground or have a fluted edge.
This smaller, lighter chef’s knife is used for light cutting chores. It’s between the size of a chef’s knife and a paring knife; the blade is generally four to eight inches long.
From Italian for “half moon,” Mezzaluna knives consist of a single or double curved blade with a handle on each end. They are most commonly used for chopping herbs or very large single blade versions are sometimes used for slicing pizza.
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