Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Choose Quality Kitchen Knives

The very first thing that you will need to do when sauteeing food is to chop whatever ingredients you are going to use into manageable, bite-size pieces. This will make them faster and easier only to cook, but will also make sure that the ingredients cook more evenly.

Not only do you want your ingredients to be manageable and bite-size, but you also want to cut the different ingredients similar sizes so that they will cook evenly, instead of some ingredients being overcooked and other ingredients being undercooked.

Before we move to the next thing that you will need to saute your foods—which would be drying off your food and heating your skillet to actually start cooking—let’s take a look at different cutting terms and choose which knife we are going to use.

But first, let’s find a decent knife…

There are many knife manufacturers that market knives designed just for cutting vegetables.

These knives are specifically made to slice vegetables…

These vegetable knives are usually found only in Japanese kitchen knife sets—such as those knife sets made by Shun, Global, and Zhen.

Although these knives are a good choice, they are not always the best choice. For instance, larger vegetables such as potatoes will require a paring knife in order to shape and peel them.

But is buying a vegetable knife really necessary?

I don’t think so…

So let’s take a look at all of the other kitchen knife choices that could be used instead as you slice and dice your veggies, or whatever you may be cooking, that do not require forking over money that could be used to buy better quality ingredients instead.

Knife Choices

Boning Knife…Boning knives have a very thin blade and are used mainly for removing meat from the bone because the thin blade allows you to remove as much meat from the bone as you can.

Chef’s Knife…Chef’s knives are designed with a blade that makes it easy to learn how to do the fancy “rocking” motion that most of us only can wish for when watching such shows as Iron Chef…more on this later…

They also help when you’re cutting vegetables over a long period of time because they have some weight behind them.

Chinese Chef’s Knife…The Chinese chef’s knife is a lightweight, all-purpose knife that looks like a meat cleaver.

—Paring Knife…Because this knife is so small, it is great for cutting vegetables and fruits, but if you’re going to be cutting a lot of vegetables and it will take you a lot of time, this knife will make your hand more fatigued more quickly. Save this knife for those times when you are just slicing a carrot or peeling a few potatoes.

But regardless which knife you choose to dice and slice your veggies, there are some important things to consider, including…

Blade…The perfect blade should be strong and sturdy enough to cut meats and bones. If you will be slicing meat, you also need your blade to be thick. The blade of the knife should meet surgical grade or 18/10 grade.

Handle…The handle is an important part of the knife, just as important as the blade. The handle should not be slippery. For this reason, it is usually better to buy knives with wood handles. You also want the handle to be substantial, but not so heavy that you can hardly lift it. The handle must fit well and balanced in your hand.

Material…Always choose high-carbon steel or high-carbon stainless steel knives.

Tip…There are a few advantages of choosing knives with pointed or rounded blades, such as serving meat with bones directly onto a guest’s plate.

Weight…Technically there is no “correct” weight when it comes to knives, This is a matter of personal preference. But you do want to make sure that the knives you choose allow you to maintain control over the whole knife.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

On the Chopping Block

The first step in sauteeing your food is to cut whatever you’re going to saute into uniform, bite-size pieces…

And unless you totally want to ruin both your countertops and your knives, it is very important to invest in a decent cutting board.

As you are shopping for your new cutting board, it is important to consider several things—such as size, maintenance, material, and cost.

Size…As far as size, I have found that it is smart to have at least two different sized cutting boards—a small one for cutting up fruit and small vegetables—such as strawberries, lemons, and limes…and a larger one for everything else.

As far as the larger cutting board, a general rule of thumb is to buy a board that measures 15″x20″. 

You should be able to lay your knife diagonally on your cutting board and have at least 1″-2″ on either side of the knife.

Buying such a large board is great for several reasons, including…

  • allowing you to better control the board as well as the knife
  • being more comfortable in general
  • giving you plenty of room to work safely and effectively
  • making cutting both easier and safer