I’ve always marveled at my dad’s knife skills. Some days it seems like I can give him a dull butter knife and he’ll end up carving a Christmas roast. I’m not so talented.
I’ll admit that I love knives. I have fond memories from my childhood of my father sharpening his knives on a sharpening stone. Some nights he’ll work on all his knives. One after the other he’d sharpen—testing it for reliability, uniformity, and sharpness. Stroke after stroke he’s grind away at each blade until it was in perfect condition. Or maybe it’s my infatuation of ninjas and their sacred acts when it comes to their blades. But like a ninja, my father knew how to take care of his knives.
I used to drool at the site of knife block sets—knives to slice, dice, chop, trim, fillet, and mince—but now I have reduced my arsenal to a select few.
Here they are: Cleaver, Chef, Santoku, Yanagi, and Paring.
Here’s how I use each of them because they each serve their own purposes.
Cleaver – I use my cleaver to hack away at large chunks of meat, to press garlic, hammer through frozen foods and cut through bone.
Chef – For some reason this knife, a random German brand, has stayed sharp in my kitchen for the past 10 years. I use this knife to dice, slice, and mince. It has a great balance and can get the job done.
Santoku – I was introduced into Santoku knives from one of my friends who lives and dies by it. This Santoku is the pride and joy in our kitchen. It is a Shun Elite Santoku Knife available from Sur La Table which is the knife of my choice when I reach for my knife block.
Paring – A great chef must have a paring knife. My paring knife is related to my santoku knife. It is a Shun Elite Paring Knife, 3½” which is also available from Sur La Table. This knife is small and has a great handle to help maneuver through small vegetables. Also, it’s well balanced.
Yanagi Sashimi – This is my knife which I use to cut fish into sashimi pieces. It is 270mm long and can slice through fish like butter. Okay, I’ll admit that this knife is purely for show. I’ll take this knife out when I have guests who come over for sushi. It’s definitely all for the wow factor.
When it comes down to majority of the cooking I do I stick with the santoku and the paring knife. These two knives are essential to a easy adventure in the kitchen.
Don’t forget to sharpen and take care of your knives!