Everyone knows the importance of having a good set of knives in the kitchen to help with everyday meal preparation. But do you really know what the difference is between a Cook’s Knife and a Santoku Knife? Or the best way to care and store your knives to help prolong their sharpness? The LuxPad has put together a helpful Kitchen Knife Guide to explain how to get the best out of your knives in the kitchen, with some expert help & advice from Gaurav Puri, Head Chef at Clayton Hotel Chiswick and Scott Cameron, Head Chef at the two AA Rosette Award Winning Restaurant at The Four Seasons Hotel in St Fillans, Scotland…
Types of Knife
Creating spectacular culinary delights is only achievable when you have the right tools. A decent set of kitchen knives is essential for any type of cook, whether you are a devoted chef or you just cook occasionally, finding the right implements is the first step.
An indispensable knife for every home is the cook’s/chef’s knife, aptly named because it is the most used knife in a kitchen. Extremely versatile, it is suitable for the vast majority of everyday tasks from chopping vegetables to slicing your Sunday joint of beef. Available in a variety of sizes, cook’s/chef’s knives make large scale chopping a breeze.
A Cooks knife is the most versatile knife in the kitchen. These can be used on herbs, vegetables, butchering meat… generally anything that you feel comfortable using it for. Scott Cameron.
The Chef’s Knife is great for mincing and disjointing large cuts of meat. Gaurav Puri.
A smaller version of the chef’s knife, utility knives are another kitchen essential. Smaller than a traditional chef’s knife, this knife is easy to use and perfect for everyday use. Perfect for cutting sandwiches, soft fruit and slicing cuts of meat.
A good bread knife is a necessity in every kitchen. With serrated or scalloped edges, these knives are perfectly suited for slicing baked goods and food that has a harder exterior.
The santoku, otherwise known as a Japanese chef’s knife, is a knife that is becoming very popular amongst professional chefs. The word ‘santoku’ translates as ‘three good things,’ which refers to the three cutting tasks this knife is designed to perform; dicing, slicing, and mincing.
The Santoku Knife is great for slicing sashimi and chopping herbs. GP.
These kinds of knives generally have sharper blades with thinner edges which makes them especially good for chopping vegetables. SC.
Ideal for intricate cutting tasks, the paring knife has a very sharp point to easily remove pips and seeds. They are particularly suited to preparing, peeling and slicing small fruit and vegetables.
A great knife for de-veining prawns, which is helped by the small size of the blade and preparing vegetables and garnishes. GP.
Generally smaller knives, the Pairing/Vegetable Knife are more of a utility utensil. They are good for peeling/turning vegetables and can also be used on more fiddly tasks- like taking wishbones out of chickens etc. SC.
Often long and thin in shape, a slicing knife is sometimes referred to as a carving knife. Suited for slicing poultry, meat and fish, this knife will ensure thin and even slices, especially when cutting a joint.
Designed to maneuverer with ease, a boning knife is long and thin with a sharp tip. Perfect for removing bones from meat, boning knives are often more flexible than other kitchen knives.
Similar in design to a boning knife, a fillet knife is also long and thin to remove fish bones with ease. Typically flexible, this knife will allow you to fillet fish precisely and with the utmost control
The vegetable knife is another all-purpose knife, used for all sorts of fruit and vegetables by chopping, dicing, slicing and mincing. The wide blade makes it easier to transfer the ingredients into a pan or bowl. GP.
The most important thing about using knives at home is to find a knife that you like and is comfortable. In reality you will most likely stick to using 1 or 2 knives. Generally I use a cook’s knife for the majority of jobs, a filleting knife for butchery and fish prep and finally a turning knife for vegetable preparation. SC.
The quality and price of the knife will reflect the way it has been crafted. Fully forged knifes are universally regarded as the best on the market, these are created using a single piece of steel with the blade and tang in one piece. Stamped knives are crafted using a machine to cut from a strip of stainless steel, not as durable as fully forged steel blades they are however more economical to make and buy.
Tang refers to the section of the blade which attaches to the handle. The tang of a knife is another fantastic way to gage quality. Full tang varieties feature a blade which seamlessly runs the entire length of the handle and is secured by rivets. Full tang blades are the tools of choice for professional chefs and are the best for avid cooks. Half tang blades whilst not as high quality as full tang are still ideal for general everyday cooking and have blades which go up to three quarters of the way into the handle
Caring for your Knives
No matter how high quality your knives, if the blades are not protected they will not maintain their superb chopping abilities. Storing knives in a knife block or on a magnetic board and using only smooth surfaces to cut on will keep the blades in good condition.
Hand washing & hand drying knives keeps them sharper compared to washing them in a dishwasher. Most knives however are dishwasher safe, but where possible remove them before the cycle ends and dry them by hand.
Using a knife sharpener regularly will keep your knives in the best condition.