4 Knives for Young Cooks to Get Started
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Knives are one of the most important pieces of equipment a cook learns to choose, keep sharp, and protected. Whether you like to cook for your family or professionally, knife selection is one of the first things a young cook learns. A knife should feel comfortable in your hand and should also cater to your needs. E.g. someone might prefer longer handles to short ones.
The type of knife you choose depends on your cooking and working style. There are a variety of options in the market such as Japanese, German, and plain old Chinese options. Quality knives are expensive but they are an investment in your love of food and cooking. With experience, you learn to develop your style and pick your favorite knives. For beginners, we are here to help you put together your first chef’s knife set:
1. Chef’s Knife
While choosing a knife, most people only look at the sharpness of the blade. But it goes beyond that. It is important to hold it in your hand and test it. Use the knife to mince, dice, chop, and squash before you buy it.
The reason being that the weight, handle and size should feel comfortable in your hand. Some of the elite knives include German forged knives and Japanese Damascus kitchen knives. The difference between these two popular options is the weight of the knife. A german style knife is a great option but the recent trend of Japanese knives due to their lightweight has been booming. But some people prefer the slicing of a german knife when it comes to chicken or meat due to its heavy blades.
2. Paring Knife
After picking out your chef’s knife you will need a Parer. This 3-4” of beauty is used to cut small fruits, vegetables, and any small meat. If you plan on holding lots of small fruits and veggies while you cut, we recommend going for the small 3” blade.
Since these knives are small in size and not much used except for some cutting and dicing, they are usually not sold on their durability but rather the sharpness of their blade. But don’t fully dismiss the use yet. This knife will be used plenty more than you think so make sure to get a good one. We recommend going for the Wusthof classic ikon paring knife or the Zyliss paring knife if you are on a budget.
3. Sharpening Steel
Okay, so now that you have got your chef’s knife and the knife you will use if your chef’s knife is too big. i.e. The paring knife. Next up is the sharpening steel. Most people might not consider this a knife but let us tell you that getting sharpening steel is not optional. As your knives are used daily, over a span of a few months the blades will be out of alignment and that will cause poor cutting performance.
To avoid any embarrassment and hassle, sharpening steel is a must. We suggest buying steel that is longer than your longest knife. E.g get a 10 inch if your longest knife is 8”. These steels not only sharpen but have a hidden talent as fishing bottle caps and metal objects as they are magnetic. Winware by Winco or Messermeister honing steel is recommended.
4. Bread Knife
The 4th most important knife is the bread knife. Got waxy fruit or tough skins? This baby will go right here will get you through. Use it on tomatoes, melons, eggplants, and pineapples, etc. Most people would argue that a chef’s knife could do the same but the bread or serrated knife is much safer to use. Also, as the name suggests, it’s best for slicing cakes and bread without smashing them into pieces. Be careful not to use your serrated on sharpening steel. These knives are made for long-term use. We recommend buying the Victorinox swiss army or mercer culinary millennia 10” knife.
Lastly, remember to always clean and dry your knives before putting them back. This will make your knife set last longer and also look and feel aesthetic for a long time too. Knife storage options include magnetic strips, knife blocks, and guards, these will make sure the edges are not misaligned. Moreover, as the saying goes, respect your tools if you want to excel at the art. Tell us about some of your favorite knives in the comments below