One of the most important tools in any kitchen is a good knife. A chef’s knife and a paring knife are all that you really need to efficiently and effectively prepare any dish – plus maybe a good serrated bread knife. When choosing a knife, look for one that is made of stainless or carbon steel and that has a sturdy handle. It is also important to make sure that the knife is the right size for the cook. Most adults can work effectively with an eight inch chef’s knife, but six inch and twelve inch options are available for those with smaller or larger hands.
A good knife should have some heft to it. Remember that much of what makes a knife an effective tool is not just its sharpness (we’ll get to that in a minute) but also the power that it provides. A knife is a lever and a wedge (remember high school physics?) and a heavier blade closer to the user’s hand will help to deliver more power. As for that blade, keep it sharp with regular honing and semi-frequent sharpening by a professional with a whetstone or grinder. A sharp knife is a safer knife. Which would you rather have – a clean cut that can be easily sutured or a jagged one? Before you purchase a knife, test it for balance to be sure that the weight of the steel is evenly distributed. Hold out your palm face up with the middle three fingers out. Rest the juncture of the handle and the wide part of the blade on your fingers and let the knife come to balance. A well balanced knife will lay still and not tilt to one side or the other.
A good knife is an investment that can last a long time.