By far, the single most important kitchen tool you can own is a good, sharp knife.
Nothing will see more use, help you prepare food faster and safer, and help you create a better final product than good knives.
Have you ever been chopping something with a dull knife, and have the blade slip off the food, possibly even cutting you in the process? (Bell peppers are the worst for these types of slips)
Did you know that some sushi masters can even taste if types of sashimi have been sliced or prepared with a knife that isn’t sharp enough? While most of us aren’t exactly sushi masters, we can all still benefit from a few tips on how to select and buy a good knife, and which types of knives you’ll actually need to own.
Let’s start with what NOT to buy:
- Stay far, far away from any types of knives advertising to “Never need sharpening!” The truth is, there is no such thing. All quality knives benefit from having their edge honed and re-sharpened periodically.
- Do not be lured into buying a knife set with something like 74 different types of knives. Sets that are marketed in this way are generally a sign of poor quality. In other words they are selling quantity over quality. As I’ll explain later, 3 to 4 good knives can handle any kitchen task.
- Don’t buy a knife until you’ve had a chance to hold it. Everyone’s hands and grip are different, so you want to find a knife that feels good for you. My hands are fairly large, so a knife that feels good to me might not feel good to someone else, etc.
People have asked me what type of knives I use before. I have 3 knives that I use every day, which can handle virtually any task. The brand of knives I use is Shun, and while they are fairly pricy, I have never owned a better knife, and can’t recommend them enough.
The workhorse of any knife set is the Chef’s Knife. 8″ is the standard size I own:
The second most used knife is my 6″ boning knife, which I use for meats and fish.
Lastly, a pairing knife for small tasks and detail work:
These three knives account for 95% of the prep work I do every day. I do also own a bread knife that sees a little face time when needed.
Some good brands to get you started on your search:
- J.A. Henckels
While there are other quality knife makers, you really can’t go wrong with any of the brands listed above.
Try a couple out and see which feels best for you!