LAST WEEK we discussed about buying the knives. Now we shall look at the kind of knives needed in the kitchen. The answer depends on the nature of the job. Knives are made differently for different functions. You could slice a roast with a paring knife, but it will be much easier and you'll do a better job if you use the right knife. With three multi-purpose knives, you can perform almost every cutting job; while other types have more specialised uses.
The chef knife
The chef knife will have a triangular blade from 6 to 10 inches long (with the most popular being 8"), usually at least 1 1/2" tall that gently tapers to the point. French chef knives will have thinner, longer blades which help to slice thick items, while German-style chef's knives will be wider across the blade and shorter in length for better chopping. The chef knife often seems too large to novices, but with some practice it becomes the knife of choice because it is efficient for large or multiple jobs.
Use this knife to chop, slice and mince; the side of the blade can be used for crushing garlic and some spices. The chef knife is best used in a rocking motion for chopping. Another knife to consider in this genre is the Chinese knife. While it may look like a cleaver, the Chinese knife is thin, well balanced and made for chopping and mincing vegetables. It is often called `the Chinese chef's knife'.
The paring knife
The paring knife has a blade of about 2 1/2" to 4 inches that is only about 3/4" wide at its widest point. It can be used to peel vegetables and fruit, trim meats, and cut pastry dough - any job that requires some delicate cutting work.
The serrated knife
The long serrated knife is often called a bread knife because it is particularly good for slicing breads that require a back and forth sawing motion. Beyond breads, the serrated knife can be good for tomatoes and peaches and other fruits that have a skin that can bruise easily. The serrated knife must be sharpened professionally, and should not be used on a sharpening steel. However, the properly cared for serrated knife should not become dull because it is rarely drawn across a cutting board or other surfaces.
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