Anatomy of a Kitchen Knife
Forged vs. Stamped
Forged and stamped are two general categories that knives fall into. The terms refer to the method in which the knives have been manufactured. A forged knife is made of a single piece of heated metal which is hammered and formed into the knife shape, while a stamped, or machined knife, is one that has been cut by passing a sheet of metal into a hydraulic press, which cuts the specified shape out cookie-cutter style. Stamped knives can also be cut via a CNC machine.
Although you'll run into heated debates and strong opinions on one side or the other, forged blades aren't necessarily or automatically better than a stamped blade, even though there is undeniably a high level of skill and craftsmanship involved. Precision engineering and modern technology can certainly provide an excellent, high-quality product in stamped blades, but beware of overly cheap products out there, and be sure to do your research before committing. A forged knife generally has more weight to it, while a stamped blade is often thinner and lighter. What you choose is down to personal preference. How does the knife feel in your hand? Handle different knives, and see what feels best for you.
Bolsters and Tangs
The tang is the tail of the knife that fits inside the handle. Also hotly debated is that a "full tang", or metal tail that runs the entire length of the handle, is also a sign of quality and toughness. While not entirely untrue, unless you plan on using your knife as a crowbar, then this extra bit of toughness may not be necessary. A "stick tang" is a metal tail that only partially extends into the knife handle, as seen in the picture to the right.
- Chef knife, 30 cm, a large universal knife for chopping, slicing, etc
- Boner knife, a meat knife used for butchering and removing bones
- Pallet knife, used for cooking, serving, flipping, and spreading
- Paring knife, used for peeling, small detail work
- Y-Peeler, used to cut paper thin slices or peel thinly
- Bird's beak paring knife, used for garnishes, fruit carving and tournee cuts
- Pincet/Tweezer tongs, used for handling hot foods while cooking, frying, etc
- Vegetable peeler, used for general rough peeling
Other Types of Knives
Salmon knives are long, thin and flexible with indentations in the blade to easily release the meat. This knife is used for slicing thin pieces of smoked fish (particularly salmon), but can also be used for roast beef or ham. The picture to the left is the salmon knife I got for my birthday by Tojiro.
This knife is more traditional in Asia, with a much straighter cutting edge than a classic curved western knife. They come in Chinese and Japanese varieties (Chinese has a much broader blade), and unlike a traditional cleaver, are much lighter and razor sharp. They are ideal for chopping vegetables, smashing garlic, scooping up chopped goods to transfer them to a bowl or pot, and much more. Personally, I love using mine for finely dicing onions, and the blade length is perfect for great control, especially if your hands are a bit on the small side.
Santoku knives are Japanese chef knives. The blade is generally shorter than a Western knife, like the one pictured in my starter knife kit above. The knives have a "sheepsfoot" blade, which curves downward toward the tip. This results in a much smaller point, which makes it more difficult to accidentally pierce something while cooking (like yourself for example). I prefer the shorter blade for control. They are wonderful knives for slicing and dicing, but can't be rocked back and forth as well as a Western knife. You can get these knives with or without a granton edge (the grooves in the side that keep stuff from sticking).
Japanese vs. Western Knives
Without getting into a huge debate, the main differences between these knives are hardness, shape, blade thickness and steel used. Many would argue that one is better than the other, but it really comes down to preferences and how much you're willing to spend.
Japanese knives are known for their lightweight, hard steel, which can hold an edge (stays sharp) for longer. The drawback is that the blades can get notched, and if you drop one, it can break.
Western knives are known for being durable and heavier, with a softer steel. The weight of the knife can help in cutting through ingredients. The softer blade means it may not hold an edge for as long, but instead of notching or breaking, it may bend instead.
If you're interested in learning more about Japanese and Western knives, you can read this article at sharpen-up.com.
Here are some of my top safety tips:
1. The claw grip
2. Use a sharp knife
3. Put a damp cloth under your cutting board
4. Cleaning knives
5. Never try to catch a falling knife
Practice proper knife skills, but remember that practice makes perfect.
I hope you enjoyed this post on knives! If you like this content, and would like to see more, feel free to leave a message below or contact me via email, facebook, twitter or instagram. Tell me what you'd like to see next, and be sure to share with your friends.
Until next time, stay chefy!