The variety of kitchen knife types offered by stores staggers the imagination. However, it often happens that some of them appear to be not in demand at all or used rarely if ever, especially when buying large knife sets. In order to come up with the choice and understand what knives are needed in your kitchen, you should familiarize yourself with the main knife types and their application.
Three varieties — paring, utility, and European chef — are undoubtedly the most popular and frequently used knives. They make up the "cook's threesome" knife set that is a must for every housewife and will certainly be used in any kitchen, regardless of the chef's qualification.
Even this minimum set is enough to perform almost all kitchen activities.
This small knife with a short blade is ideally suited for peeling and slicing vegetables and fruits. With this knife in your hand, you can peel the skin thinly, remove the core or gently cut out browns and stalks. As a rule, the paring knife is the smallest among all commercially available kitchen knife types.
The most indispensable knife used to perform an abundance of kitchen activities. It can be used to cut vegetables, bread, cheese or sausage, portion meat or chop the greens. The length and width of the blade are ideal for almost any cooking operation.
The leader of the "cook's threesome" — the European chef — is a massive knife featuring a wide and long blade that is optimally adapted to several manipulations, including cutting, shredding, and chopping. It copes perfectly fine with meat, fish or poultry, vegetables and fruits, greens, as well as many other foods.
In addition to the above three kitchen knife types, cooking often requires several more highly specialized knife types that are to the highest extent possible adapted to performing strictly defined operations.
A dedicated knife for cutting bread has a special shape of the blade with small notches. With a serrated grind, this knife copes perfectly fine with both crispy crust and lush airy crumb, without crumbling or smashing it. It is suitable for any pastry.
This long narrow knife has an ideal shape for fast and effective deboning. It is primarily intended for separating fish, meat or poultry fillets, but can also be easily used for cutting fish, meat or poultry fillets.
Kitchen Meat Cleaver
The kitchen meat cleaver is the largest of the variety of kitchen knife types. It can easily cope with any task that most other knives cannot handle: its wide and heavy blade easily cuts through bones, joints, and cartilages. It will be absolutely indispensable for severing heads of large fish, chopping not too large slabs of meat, as well as preparing stuffed chicken. With its ideally balanced weight and sharpness, this knife enables you to perform these actions quickly and with little effort.
The Santoku knife, or sometimes referred to as Japanese Chef, performs essentially the same actions as the European one, i.e. cutting, shredding, and chopping. The typical Japanese geometry of the wide blade enables to manipulate it not only back and forth, but up and down, with the point remaining in contact with the cutting board all the time. This provides greater ergonomics and user-friendliness.
The collection of kitchen knife types would be incomplete without this showpiece — a slicing knife for accurate cutting of sausage, ham, and cheese. It is also suitable for portion slicing of fish or meat fillets, or poultry. With its quite narrow and thin, but at the same time long blade, this knife is suitable for the most filigree work, i.e. it is often used for preparing sushi, sashimi and other Japanese dishes.
Despite its name, the tomato knife is used effectively for slicing any vegetables or fruits that have a strong delicate skin and core, including tomatoes, citrus fruits, and pineapples. With its bread knife like serrated blade, it copes well with a hard shell, however, cuts gently the tender pulp.
The steak knife is ideally suited for cutting meat fibers, but can also handle other foods of any density such as cabbage rolls, fish, and sausages. It can have its blade serrated either fully or partially. It will also be good at cutting small pieces of bread for breakfast and spreading butter thereon. It is typically bought in the number required to serve the table.
Of these multi-purpose or highly specialized kitchen knife types, each can make up an individual collection of chef's tools.