The knives in your kitchen come in all sizes and shapes. Some are for
dining, chopping, slicing, carving, and tearing. But which knives are
made for what purpose and which are essential to have in your kitchen?
In this section, we'll look at some popular knives and discuss what
each type of knife is designed for (and some unconventional uses for
Chinese Cleaver (Asian Cleaver)
The knife that is consistently rated as the single most essential knife
in the kitchen is the chef's knife. However, if I could only pick one
knife to have in the kitchen, it would be a Chinese or Asian cleaver.
This knife's sharp edge is thin enough and sharp enough to easily cut
and mince food and at the same time strong enough to handle light
cleaving jobs. The side of the blade can be used to smash garlic and
ginger and the top edge san be used (with care) as a meat tenderizer.
The broad blade is often used to move food from the cutting board to
The most versatile knife in the western kitchen is the chef's knife.
It is used for cutting, slicing, chopping, and mincing. The curved blade
allows rocking back and forth for fine chopping and mincing. Chef's knives
come in blade lengths from 6 to 12 inches. The longer the knife, the more
you can cut, but the more difficult it is to control. If you've got small
hands (like I do), you may want to stick with the 6 to 8 in. variety.
The paring knife is great for working a blade in a small space. Paring apples,
cutting fruits, butterflying shrimp, and seeding a jalapeno are just some of
the tasks the paring knife is well suited for. The paring knife has a thin
blade that makes it easy to manuever while cutting. The sharp tip is also
useful for removing potato eyes and other such tasks.
Carving Knife (Slicing Knife)
A carving knife's special purpose is to carve poultry, roasts, and hams after
they have been cooked. Carvers typically have points to reach into tight
places, but roast beef carvers have blunt ends. Some have hollow recesses
along their blades and are referred to as granton or hollow edged. These air
pockets allow for thinner slicing because they prevent meat slices from
adhering to the blade.
Boning Knife (Fillet Knife)
Steak Knife (Dining Knife)