Lessons in Using the Chef’s Knife

By admin / 8 years ago

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Here is a nice little article that explains some of the parts of a knife.  It is interesting,  how you use a knife and involve the many parts.  For instance when dicing an onion you would use the tip to make a series of slices across 80% of the onion leaving the last portion uncut so that the onion will hold together for step 2.  Now you turn the onion 90 degrees and use the heel portion of the knife to slice across the series of slices this will yield the dice. when you get to the last 20% you lay this down and finish slicing this with tiny width slices to complete the process.  By making the first series of slices an eighth of an inch apart you will get a minced onion.  Increasing the width you can obviously go up to large chunks for stews.

During the course of a day I will use many different knives.  For instance, if I am making Pico de Gallo, I would start with a thin bladed boning knife to separate the Roma flesh from the seeds. I would then switch to a santoku knife to dice the flesh into quarter inch squares.  Next I would use the Chef’s knife to mince the jalapenomincing with a chef's knife and cilantro the longer blade gives better rocking action and I can use my left hand to put pressure on the top of the blade to insure that I go all the way through the fine parts of the cilantro leaf.

While in my case I will use many knives during a days work, the Japanese chef has learned to be extremely proficient with just one.  I once watched a demonstration where the chef took a Japanese chef knife similar to the cleaver and carved a fish net out of a daikon.  It happened so fast I could not keep up with it but if I were to try to duplicate his efforts I would have used three knives to copy his efforts.  Today companies like Kershaw-Shun and others are making a variety of knives for specific tasks.  You can now buy a square tipped vegetable knife which looks like a chef’s knife with the tip cut off.   With sushi so much a part of our culture, the right and left handed sushi knife is becoming popular.  Another toy I picked up the other day is a wavy slicer for soft vegetables and cheeses just to vary the appearance of crudites and cheese platters.   Just like every other task in life using the best kitchen knives for the job makes it so much easier.

Shun Parer
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The Blagger’s Guide To Kitchen Knives

As you might have guessed, in England a blagger is someone who comes across as far more knowledgeable than is the reality – a useful skill sometimes. Anyway, here are a few esoteric facts to keep up your sleeve for when a ‘knife geek’ gets within talking distance!

Japanese knives are sharpened to an angle of 15 degrees from vertical or less (12 degrees min.). Use diamond or ceramic sharpeners, as metal steels will damage Japanese knife blades.

The ‘neb’ is a rounded downturn at the rear of a knife handle and still features on many European knives such as Wusthof’s Classic range. These can be seen on the Wusthof pages at the Cooks&Kitchens website.

Like fish, many traditional knives have ‘scales’! They’re the black plastic or wooden sides of a riveted handle.

Many Japanese knife companies are releasing new models with ‘scalloped edges’, notably Global. This very effective way of reducing the sticking of food to the blade actually originates back in the mists (or smog!) of Nineteenth Century Sheffield when William Grant invented his ‘scallop’ for ham slicing and named it the Granton edge after his knife company. Many European makers still use this name today.

No high-quality knife should be put in a dishwasher. Although it may describe itself as stainless steel, this is not terribly accurate – good knives have c. 5 times the carbon level of ‘ordinary’ stainless steel and this is degraded by dishwasher solutions.

The mist-like layering of top Japanese knives is the result of continuous folding of layers of steel around a very hard central layer. This process is also called Damascening – a reference to its origins in Syria. Good examples of this process can be seen at the Cooks&Kitchens website in the Tojiro section. In the Nineteenth Century, acid-etching was often used to create the appearance of layering on standard pocket knife blades.

A bolster is the ‘chunk’ of metal that lies between the blade and handle on traditional knives and contributes to the knife’s balance and heft. Many modern knives, particularly from Japan , have dispensed with these in order to reduce weight and rely on seamless welds between blade and handle.

By: Arthor Pens

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Article provided by www.cooksandkitchens.co.uk as an expert guide to the detailed side of kitchen knives as illustrated at www.cooksandkitchens.co.uk/knives.asp

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