1. The components of any knife are the tip, the blade, the spine, the heel, and the tang. The tip is the point of a knife. The blade refers to the cutting edge of a knife. The spine refers to the thicker top edge opposite from the blade. The heel is where the spine meets the knife’s handle. The tang refers to the metal from the knife blade that runs through the knife’s handle. When purchasing knives, look for knives with a “full tang”, referring to a tang that runs through the full length of the knife’s handle. Full tang knives give you better control and make for more sturdy, durable knives in the long run. 00:26
2. Chef's knives are the workhorse of the kitchen. They are commonly used for dicing, slicing, and chopping. Chef's knives can also be used for basic butchering or portioning delicate proteins like fish. Boning knives are great for more precise work. They are commonly used for removing items from their bone and breaking down smaller animals like poultry. The smaller size makes a boning knife easier to maneuver when working on intricate tasks like butchering or carving poultry. Paring knives have small, short blades and are often used for peeling vegetables and fruits. They are also good for making precise cuts on smaller items. 01:25
3. Some other useful knives to have around the kitchen include a bird’s beak paring knife, a cleaver, a smaller chef’s knife, a bread knife, and a fillet knife. Bird’s beak knives have short, contoured blades that make them useful for cleaning and peeling produce products like apples or artichokes. The contour of the blade allows for more control over convex items. Cleavers are sharp, heavy knives used for butchering primal cuts of meat and cutting through bones. Cleavers have a heavy blade and a thick spine, making for a very sturdy knife. Chef Bryon recommends buying a full tang cleaver to insure a sturdy, long-lasting knife. Smaller chef’s knives, like Chef Bryon’s four-inch knife, are great for butchering smaller products like poultry or duck. 02:34
4. Two other great knives to have around are the serrated bread knife and the fillet knife. Serrated bread knives are useful for cutting bread with a thick crust as well as for cutting into soft produce like tomatoes. Another knife with a textured edge is the fillet knife. Fillet knives are long and have grooves ground into the side of the blade. They are great for slicing proteins like tenderloins, and for filleting delicate products like seafood. 06:01
What You'll Need
- Chef's knife
- Boning knife
- Paring knife
- Bird’s beak knife
- Four-inch chef’s knife
- Bread/serrated knife
- Granton edge slicing knife
Once you have all the knives you need to properly outfit your kitchen, learn how to use them by visiting Chef Jonathan Benno’s “Fundamental Knife Skills” tutorial located at the bottom of the page.
The knife that Chef Bryon refers to as the “fillet knife” is also known as a granton edge slicer. “Granton edge” refers to the grooves or dimples ground into the side of the knife blade. These grooves create air pockets between the knife and the item being cut which allows for for greater separation and reduced cutting friction. Granton edges are now commonly found on several different types of knives including chef’s knives and Western versions of the Japanese Santoku knife.
When purchasing knives, look for high quality components. Knives with steel blades and wooden handles are usually going to be of higher quality and last longer than knives with plastic handles. Test out how a knife feels in your hand and if you like the weight and balance of the knife. Finding a knife that works well for you is a matter of personal preference; a knife that works well for one person may not work well for someone else.
To preserve and prolong the quality of knives, they should be kept sharp. To learn more about sharpening knives at home, visit Chef Bryon’s “How to Sharpen a Knife with a Stone” tutorial located at the bottom of the page.