How to Pick the Perfect Chef's KnifeJane Maynard
This past weekend my cousin Jamie was visiting. We cooked a few meals together and whenever she used my knives she said, “Oh, it’s so nice to use knives that actually work!” She had just been visiting some other family members in another state and they had terrible knives that couldn’t even cut through celery! We got to talking about knives and we both agreed — if you are going to be doing any amount of cooking, you need a good knife! I’ve written before about the three knives you absolutely need in the kitchen, but today we’re going to focus on just one of those knives: the multipurpose chef’s knife.
So, I know I said you need three knives in your kitchen, but, if push came to shove, I think you really only need two a long serrated knife and a chef’s knife. For the serrated knife I’ll just say this get a good quality knife that is nice and long. For the chef’s knife, I have a bit more to say on the topic! I love my chef’s knife and couldn’t live without it! I rarely pull out my paring knife and find that my chef’s knife gets the most use of any of the knives in my kitchen. Here are a few tips for finding the perfect chef’s knife that you can be head-over-heels in love with!
Invest In Your Knife.
You do not need a whole set of knives. Like I said before, two or three knives will do it, so spend your money on just a few high-quality knives rather than a big set of mediocre knives or even a big set of high-quality knives you’ll probably never use! By investing in a good knife from the start you will save money in the long run since that knife will last you forever! Plus, cooking will be so much easier when the knife cuts through food easily. The day I upgraded from a crappy-came-with-a-set-of-pans knife to a high-quality-I-spent-a-little-money-and-it-was-totally-worth-it knife, it was truly life changing!
Go to a Store and Try Out Different Knives.
Stores like Williams-Sonoma will be happy to show you different types of knives and let you try them out. In fact, the salespeople can be knowledgeable and tremendously helpful with your search. You want the knife to feel comfortable in your hand, and the best way to know if a knife will feel comfy is to actually hold and use it!
Focus on the Size and Style.
I have two chef’s knives in my drawer: a 6 1/2-inch Santoku knife with a hollow edge and an 8-inch classic chef’s knife. “Santoku” and “classic” refer to the shape. Santoku knives are Japanese and have a straighter shape, with just a slight angle up to the tip. Classic chef’s knives are more rounded and angled up to the tip. You can see the difference in the photo above. Try out both types of knives and see which feels best for you. I always use my smaller Santoku knife over the classic chef’s knife. I like the 6″ – 7″ size more than the larger 8″ – 10″ size, and I really love the shape of the Santoku when I am cutting. It really is a matter of personal preference so make sure you go for that “test drive.”
Hollow Edge or Not?
Hollow edge refers to small, evenly-spaced indentations along the edge of the knife blade (see the Santoku knife in the photo above). These spaces create air pockets between the knife and the food, reducing sticking with thin or “stickier” foods. I personally don’t notice a huge difference and don’t think it matters much either way if you have the hollow edge or not. For everyday cooking, focus more on the size and shape of your knife when making your choice.
Now that you have found the perfect knife and made a bit of an investment, take care of it! Be sure to hone your knife before EVERY use and have it sharpened fairly regularly. You should either take your knife to a professional knife sharpener or buy a good sharpener and get trained on how to use it properly. Honing should be done all the time, sharpening should only be done once in a while.