What's in a Knife?
As with so many other things in life, choosing the right size is almost everything. (And all you naughty girls with that vivid imagination can stop right now; this is a blog about food and cooking.) All kidding aside, here are some tips on how do you pick the perfect knife that will greatly enhance your cooking pleasure.
Remember that time you made dinner at your friend’s house and asked for the sharpest knife, just to be told by the hostess that battered old steak knife with the rickety handle was her pride, joy and most capable cooking tool? My mission today is to prevent you from having a dé·jà vu experience of that moment.
How much you are willing to spend depends entirely on your budget. Sure, who wouldn’t like to have a handcrafted Bob Kramer chef’s knife but due to high demand those custom-made beauties are sold via a lottery system on Kramer’s website and will set you back more than $400 even if you go to a high end kitchen cooking store for instant gratification.
While you probably have a rough idea how much you are willing to spend, keep in mind that this is something that will last you for a long time. It’s worth it to approach this purchase with an open mind and it certainly won’t hurt to handle different knives and then narrow it down to the price range you had been thinking of when you walked into the store.
What I’m trying to say here is that, just like finding the right girl, finding the perfect knife may take some time and trying. A great knife will make all that tedious slicing, dicing and chopping a much more pleasant and effortless experience. Remember there isn’t the one and only knife that fits everyone, but you’ll know it once you’ve found it.
I highly recommend to purchasing knife of your dreams from a cookware of cutlery store. Buying from an discount online source might be cheaper, but then how would you know if the dream won’t turn into a nightmare after chopping half an onion? Plus, a good salesperson will let you use the knife, rather than pointing to her favorite item in the store and tell you to buy it.
The right knife will feel right in your hand. It’s comfortable. Some people prefer heavy knives because the weight itself will help with the tasks ahead, others will recommend to buy a lighter knife because it’ll make you less tired and is easier to handle. Your choice entirely. As far as size is concerned, most people, myself included, will opt for a knife with an 8-inch blade. It’s the most versatile for everyday use. Smaller knives can be tricky if you have to cut bigger stuff like large that large spaghetti squash you bought last week. Knives with a blade bigger than eight inches can be too clunky to handle for some people.
Many culinary professionals think of knives in two major categories: German style and Japanese style. What’s the difference? Generally Japanese-style knives have a thinner blade than a hefty German knife, which makes them easier to handle. How else do you think those sushi chefs slice the fish for your sashimi so paper-thin? On the other hand, if you are planning to do some heavy duty cutting, then a good sturdy German blade will serve you much better.
After you’ve made your choice, take your knife home and chop away. Parsley, onions, squash, cauliflower…just like those hiking shoes that felt super comfy in the store gave you major blisters on the first long hike, the ultimate test drive for your new shiny toy has to be done at home. If it turns out that your knife isn’t the right fit for you, a good kitchen supply store will let you return the knife if it’s not damaged. Make sure to ask before you make your purchase.
And remember, you can always splurge on one really good piece of equipment and request a second one in your letter to the Easter Bunny or blow some money from that upcoming tax return check.
One more thing: A quality knife does not belong in the dishwasher. Harsh detergents will make it blunt and so severely harsh your knife buzz. Same goes for putting the knife blade down in the dish rack next to your sink with the other silverware. That’s how one of my good knives got dinged and somebody (almost) lost an eye over that.
Have fun, but don’t forget to buy a box of band aids too. One never knows.
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