Knives, for a chef, are more than tools. A knife becomes a part of you, an extension of the hand itself. You can spend money on an array of fancy equipment and tools that claim to make your work in the kitchen easier, but the most important piece of equipment you can ever own is your knife, so it's important that you make the right decision. But what is the right decision? What is the best knife for you?
Anatomy of a Kitchen Knife
Let's first look at the basic structure of kitchen knives:
Forged vs. Stamped
Bolsters and Tangs
Another topic that can spark heated debate among the knife-obsessed is that of bolsters and tangs. A bolster is basically a byproduct of the forging process, which creates a thick band of metal at the heel of the blade before the handle. Sometimes, these bolsters are cut away for aesthetic reasons. Stamped knives don't have a bolster, and many fanatics will claim that a bolster is a sign of quality and safety. While the bolster can add weight at the top of the blade, which helps the balance, it's not a sign of quality nor safety. It's a sign of how the blade was manufactured.
The above points, as previously mentioned, are all a matter of personal preference. A good quality knife isn't solely dependent on if it's handmade, stamped or if the tang extends to the end of the handle. A good knife is one that feels comfortable in your hand, is sharp, and can hold its sharpness. If you're like me, and you have smallish hands, then a blade with a stick tang without a bolster may be the most comfortable grip.
Like everyone else as a newbie at culinary school, I bought a "Knife Starter Kit", much like the one shown in the picture below. The kit includes:
The above kit is one most culinary students at my institution begin with. Kitchen equipment is expensive, and this kit is around 475 dkk, which is less than $100 CAD/USD. Pretty affordable, right? And they do the trick! They''re sturdy and sharp. They're also cheap. While they tend to stay sharp for a while, they can quickly become dull with daily use, which is why it's a good idea to invest in a honing steel. You may even have one stashed in your knife block already. A steel is used to hone a knife, keeping an already sharp knife from degrading too quickly. However, a steel will not sharpen a dull blade, and if your knife is dull or pitted, take it to a professional for sharpening. Honing is considered non-destructive, while sharpening is not. To sharpen a blade, you need to remove bits of it. My former boss had a boning knife that's been sharpened so many times that it resembles a toothpick with a handle.
There are three main types of honing steels:
Check out this video on how to steel or hone your knife:
Other Types of Knives
You really only need a couple of good, universal knives in your kitchen: A chef knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife. These knives can tackle most jobs thrown your way.
There is a huge array of specialized knives and tools on the market, but I've selected some that I personally own and enjoy using, which you can see below.
Japanese vs. Western Knives
When I talk about Japanese and Western/German knives, there are a few differences that are about more than just style.
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.
Knives are one of the most important tools in the kitchen, but safety while using potentially hazardous tools is even more important for your own safety and well-being.
Here are some of my top safety tips:
1. The claw grip
Ok, the name may sound a bit silly, but it's accurate. You literally make a claw shape with the hand holding the food being sliced, which means tucking fingertips under your knuckles and keeping your thumb back and away from the blade. When slicing, the blade rests against your knuckles, keeping those soft fingertips on your fingers where they belong, instead of in the food.
2. Use a sharp knife
It may sound silly to say it, but a sharp knife, as scary as it may be, is much safer to use than a dull blade. Sharp blades don't take as much work to use, meaning that not only do you reduce strain to yourself, but you don't need to press as hard for the knife to cut. The harder you have to work to cut something, the more there is potential for that knife to slip, and for your to injure yourself. Unless you're clumsy like I am, and can trip over shadows.
3. Put a damp cloth under your cutting board
When you place a damp cloth under your cutting board, the cutting board is much less likely to move around or slide while using it. This gives better stability (just be sure that the cutting board isn't rocking on the cloth) and reduces risk of accidental cuts.
4. Cleaning knives
Never put a knife into a sink full of soapy water. The next person, or even you, may lose sight of it and cut your hand when reaching in. Place the knife on the side of the sink, wash it immediately, or place used knives into a separate bucket for separate cleaning. Remember to store your knives safely and out of reach of small children.
5. Never try to catch a falling knife
Even if you have superhero-like reflexes, and congrats if you do, never try to catch a falling knife. Put your hands up, step back, and let it fall. It's better to let the floor take a bit of damage rather than chopping pieces of yourself to bits.
A knife is an extension of the arm, and having the right tools to work with can make all the difference. However, you don't need to break the bank to have great knives. Buy the best you can afford, because they will last longer, but be sure to try them out first. It's important that the tools are comfortable in your hands.
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!
Hey there! I hope that this new year is working out for everyone so far. For me, it's included a lot of apartment renovations and painting. I can say with pride that we have actual functioning lights in our hallway again! YAY! I'm also back to work again, so posts are up at random times now.
I may have started the year off with a cream-based dessert (check out the Raspberry Vanilla Panna Cotta recipe here), but now that my surgery is over and I can eat more-or-less normally again, it's time to start putting healthy things into my mouth.
Not too long ago I decided that we should have fish for dinner. I was never a huge fish lover, but I've learned over the years that it's really all in the preparation. As long as the fish is fresh and prepared nicely, it tastes great!
I chose to make halibut, which is a type of flounder/flat fish. Unlike salmon, it's a white fish with a very low fat content. It has firm, flaky meat with a delicate, slightly sweet flavour. I crusted the fish with a bit of spicy mustard, and a mixture of Panko (Japanese bread crumb) and chopped herbs. I pan fried the fish and served with a bit of lemon and some sides (potatoes and salad). I used panko because it tastes great and gets super crispy when fried. I found it in my regular grocery store in the asian foods aisle.
What you'll need
4 halibut fillets
4 tablespoons panko
2 tbsp chopped dill
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped chives
4 tbsp flour
4 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp oil for frying
Salt and Pepper
Lemon on the side
What to do
If you're a fan of this recipe and want to see more, feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you'd like to see next. I'm especially on the lookout for new PinterTest recipes! Check out my other recipes, and share with your friends! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. You can also email me here.
As always, stay chefy!
Happy New Year everyone! This year, I'll be starting off with a dessert recipe. Yeah yeah we've all eaten too much over the holidays, but this isn't just any dessert. I like to think of it as "the little black dress of desserts". It's a simple little number that you can serve plain or dress up for a trendy black tie affair.
What is Panna Cotta?
Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert meaning "cooked cream". The cream is thickened with gelatine and then set on a mould. It's typically turned out onto a plate and served with a sauce, but can also be served in portioned cups.
Panna Cotta can be served in virtually any flavour combination imaginable with toppings and layeres.
Helping out Friends
I had to make 100 of these little beauties for a copper wedding anniversary at the last minute. My husband's friends cried out for help on Facebook when their usual go-to cake lady cancelled due to work. meaning they needed a dessert and they needed it fast! I'm on sick leave since my jaw surgery, and had nothing else to do, so I agreed to help. It was just a couple days after Christmas, so the pressure was on. I needed something I could make after coming home after spending Christmas at my in-laws, and they were on a tight budget. I suggested Panna Cotta, and it was just the ticket, at just 8.50 dkk per serving (about $1.25 USD). We agreed that it should have white chocolate and raspberry. The rest was up to me. Playtime!!
The dessert I made for them was a vanilla panna cotta topped with a raspberry gel. Sprinkled onto the gel was granulated caramelized white chocolate, a shard of almond nougatine glass, two meringues, raspberry and licorice, and a fresh raspberry.
The dessert was a hit, and they had plenty left over, which was great because panna cotta freezes well and they could use it as their New Years dessert!
If you want to read more ways you also can reduce food waste in the kitchen, you can check out some tips here.
Ingredients and Instructions
This recipe has been adjusted to give 6 portions of 150 ml each (which is the size you see in the photos)
Vanilla panna cotta:
450 ml cream
450 ml full fat milk
90 g sugar
2 vanilla beans
6 leaves gelatine
2 bags (800 g) frozen raspberries
1 tbsp sugar
100 ml water
Squeeze of lemon
4 leaves gelatine
Caramelized white chocolate
(Warning: this needs to be made a day ahead)
Take a bar of your preferred white chocolate and melt carefully over warm water. Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in an even layer, and bake 120° for approximately an hour until the chocolate turns a light golden brown. It will continue to caramelize after you remove from the oven, so don't let it get too dark, or it will become bitter!
Allow the chocolate to dry out 12 hours (depending on your chocolate) before hacking into pieces, or blending into granules. Chocolates vary, and the chocolate I used remained soft many hours after baking.
2 egg whites
100 g confectioner's sugar
flavouring of choice (appx ½ tsp)
a pinch of cream of tartar or a few drops lemon
Beat your egg whites on high speed until they begin to froth. Add your sugar slowly, a bit at a time together with the cream of tartar or lemon juice. Continue to beat until the egg whites become thick and stiff enough to hold the bowl upside down and add flavouring at the last second. A half a teaspoon of flavouring should do.
Bake at 90° for approximately 1.5 hours until dried and crispy. They should not be chewy in the middle. Once oven dried, you can leave them in the open to further air dry and avoid sticking together. They don't last long in humid climates, so I had to make them the morning of the party to be sure they weren't sad, limp little puffs.
The finished product was served to around 60 adults and children and received plenty of praise from the anniversary guests.
I had a lot of fun making these desserts, and if you like this recipe or have a suggestion for a future recipe, feel free to comment below or send me a message! Sharing is caring, so remember to share this recipe with your friends, or check out my other recipes. You can also find a printable version of the basic recipe here.
Until next time, lovlies, stay chefy!!
Hey there! My name is Lea, and I'm a Canadian Culinary student trying to survive chef life in Denmark. I want to share my journey, and some great food and experiences with others. I believe that anyone can be quite chefy!