Whether in a professional kitchen or at home, the most basic of kitchen tools is the knife. It’s imperative to have a small arsenal to execute the most basic of tasks. For any food preparer, a good knife essentially becomes an extension of your own hands. Here are the must-haves.
Chef’s Knife (also called a French Knife or Cook’s Knife), this general, all-purpose culinary tool is the one to have if you were only able to have one knife in your kitchen. Depending on the size of the blade, which ranges from 5″ to 14″, this knife can chop huge bunches of herbs as well as cut tight cabbages. The shorter blade is great for cutting smaller vegetables and for slicing and trimming fruits and vegetables. Both shorter or longer size of blades can be used for tapping off garlic skins and for standard vegetable cuts such as dicing, mincing, and for julienne.
Utility Knife With a blade usually between 4½” to 7″, this has a finer blade than the chef’s knife, and is good for slicing, dicing, and mincing large shallots, small onions, mushrooms, soft vegetables like zucchini, and medium-size fruits. Utility knives are for those in-between jobs too small for a chef’s knife and too big for a paring knife.
Paring Knife The blade length can be from 3″ to 4″, however, the typical size is 3½”. This knife is essential for all the small jobs with fruits and vegetables. It is also good for peeling or slicing items held in the hand, like carrots and apples.
Scalloped-Edge Knife Blade length: 5″ to 18″, although the longest is for commercial use. The teeth bite easily through tough skins and is ideal for tomatoes, eggplants, melons, pineapples, and citrus fruits. Unlike other blades, this type of knife cannot be honed nor sharpened.
Chinese Cleaver Cleavers have a rectangular blade (the edge may be curved or straight, depending upon its intended use) and vary in size and heft. In raw foods cuisine, the heel of this tool is used for opening coconuts.