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If you’re ever talking to a salesperson about kitchen knives and what ones you should consider buying or not buying, and they tell you that you need some 10 piece set – read this first. In my opinion, and many others in the Hospitality industry, there are only 3 main kitchen knives you need in your kitchen. This does not, of course, include knives for sit down eating, such as steak knives. No. These 3 knives deal with cutting and prep in the kitchen. These are also my 3 favorite knives because they are so versatile and yet they all have their own jobs that they were meant to do. If you read the previous article that connects to this one, you will also know that I love Wusthof. I think its by far and wide one of the better brand names in kitchen knives. Below, we will be talking about those 3 knives you definitely need to have in your kitchen, what they can/should be cutting and what they should not be cutting, and ultimately even further down, my favorite picks for knives in these 3 categories.
The Boning Knife
The boning knife is such an essential part of cooking and yet people don’t use them. Maybe if they knew what they were for, or how they could make your life easier, they would make sure they have it in their kitchens! The boning knife, as the name says, is a knife that you can de-bone with. Its not just for fish either. You can use this knife on cow, pig, lamb, duck, chicken or just about any other type or cut of meat you can think of. Usually its anywhere from 5 inches to 6 ½ inches long. It tends to be a more narrow blade, but the point of the blade is incredibly sharp. There are really 2 types of boning kitchen knives. You have ones that are ultra stiff – perfect for those denser cuts of meat like roast, steak, rack of lamb, etc.
On the other hand, you also have a more flexible boning knife. This is best used for more delicate “meats” such as chicken/poultry and fish. People will tell you that you need a boning knife for meat and a fillet knife for fish, but honestly? That’s BS. You can use a boning knife for all things deboning, despite the type of meat that it is. Also, you can use a deboning knife to remove silver skin from your meat as well. Silver skin is a thin membrane found in muscle meats. If you buy a lot of store bought meat you probably don’t run into this issue. But, if you do, a boning knife can be slid up underneath the silver skin (named for its almost silvery color) and slid back and forth to remove it. If you leave the silver skin on its going to make your meat chewy and difficult to eat, let alone cut with a steak knife. For the boning knife, I, of course, have to suggest Wusthof. These are the boning kitchen knives I really like and I think you will like as well. All of these have great reviews and they are made from quality products.
The Wusthof Classic 6 Inch Boning Knife: Wusthof! This one comes in either a 5-inch stiff knife or you have the 6-inch flexible blade. Either one is a good option. For this review, though, I am doing the 5” knife because, well, that’s what I have, that’s what I know and love! It has a lifetime guarantee, and the blade itself is made from a high carbon and stainless steel mixture. Its incredibly sharp as is. You can also buy a Knife Sharpener for it and keep it on hand if you want. The handle on this knife is really nice too. They offer comfort, but also control. People, in both commercial kitchens and residential kitchens, say that this is by far the best knife out there, and I agree with them. The people that have home kitchens say they have boned everything from silver skin to animals they dispatched themselves to meat they bought at the butcher/grocer, etc.
Victorinox 6” Semi Stiff Knife: This one is also touted as being a good boning knife to buy. It has a slip resistant handle, its perfect for slicing chops and ribs, and it has more of an angle than the one above. It also has a fancy stamped construction and its lightweight and comfortable to use.
Mercer Culinary 6 Inch Boning Knife – Curved: This one also has an angled edge perfect for getting between those hard to reach spaces on meat, poultry, and fish. It comes in a few different colors if that’s important to you such as blue, brown, green, yellow, gray and orange. This one is extraordinarily cheap in price. But, people seem to really love it. It has an ergonomic handle for extra support and comfort, its a Japanese steel knife which has easy to clean parts and a blade on it, and its NSF certified. The one thing that some people don’t like about it is that its almost too light. I know for me, I like when my knife has a little weight to it. So that’s definitely something to consider.
The Paring Knife
If a boning knife is meant for meats, then, of course, the Paring knife is used for fruits and veggies. In school and some restaurants I worked at they made us use paring kitchen knives to create certain cuts or designs in the food. At home, though, you can use your paring knife for what its meant to be used for, peeling, chopping up fruits, dicing vegetables, etc. This is also a knife I use all too often in my kitchen. Its just so versatile! A Paring knife, compared to a boning knife, is much smaller. They tend to be anywhere from 3 to 4 inches long. Oh and by the way! A paring knife is a superb option for deveining shrimp. Its pretty much all I use to devein shrimp. All you need to do is remove the shell, the legs, and hold the shrimp one of two ways. 1) The super safe way: Place it on a cutting board, flat side down, and slide the tip of the knife into the shrimp from the head, down to the tail. Then you can remove all the “stuff” inside. 2) The quicker way, but also the more dangerous way, ie; The Kristi Way. You can simply pinch the shrimp between your forefinger and thumb and use your other hand to place the knife into the head of the shrimp, down the backside, using your cutting hand as a guide. Don’t do option 2 unless you are experienced. Please. :o)
OXO Good Grips Paring Knife: I will say I really love this knife. Something about the rubbery grip just makes my hands feel better when I am using it. Its also rubbery, but it has a sort of matte finish on it which creates a bond between your hand and the knife handle – perfect control. In fact, funny enough, Wusthof is somewhat more expensive than OXO, but I do have this one in my drawer for my back up kitchen knives. I just really love the handle and I love that the blade is skinny enough to cut and prep foods, but not flimsy. There is also a serrated option with the teeth that I mentioned further down.
Dalstrong Shogun Series: This knife is from Dalstrong and it is a Japanese company and a Japanese knife. The edge is probably one of the more scalpel-like finishes, very very sharp! They use a specific type of reaction for this knife, its not just forged like most other kitchen knives. Instead, its angled a little more than most kitchen knives, by 8 to 12 inches using a method called Honbazuke (Honbazuke means roughly means “truer edge”. Honbazuke honing originates from traditional Japanese knife production where the blade is sharpened and polished by hand in three careful stages: The blade is first coarsely ground using a vertically rotating sharpening stone, followed by a fine honing utilizing a horizontally rotating sharpening stone. The edge is then polished using a leather stropping block for scalpel-like sharpness. This is married with high-tech processes such as Cryo-tempering which improves the steels crystalline structure (making them stronger).) Its also cooled down using liquid nitrogen which makes the blade edge itself very strong and durable. This is about 5 times more expensive than the OXO but if the knife edge is important to you, this might be the one for you. They also use over 66 layers of carbon steel for the blade itself and the handle is military grade – you can pretty much take this knife to hell and back, and it will still look and feel as good as when you first purchased it. This is considered the Rolls Royce of Paring kitchen knives.
Victorinox Spear Point Paring Knife: Now this one has the cost of the OXO, but it has the extra features and design like the Dalstrong yet it has reviews better than the other two. This is going to take a little thought on your part in terms of what is more important to you; saving money, paying a little more but getting a better-designed knife, or going on reviews only. This one comes in red or black and it has the option of either being a straight edge or a serrated edge. The handle is ergonomic on this one as well and has “sure grip” even when wet. Victorinox has been making cutlery and kitchen knives since 1884 so one has to wonder, if they have been around for that long, they must have good craftsmanship, right? Well. I have had kitchen paring knives just like this one. The same handle, the same blade, the same price. If I had to choose between a “cheap” (inexpensive) knife, I would choose the OXO over this. This one is very popular, but I simply don’t like the handle. It feels very cheap and flimsy. For me, its not just about the blade, its the overall comfort. But, if you want a really inexpensive, for right now knife, this is a good one to consider until you can buy something better.
The Chef Knife
Originally this knife, also called a cooks knife, was used to disjoint cuts of meat. Over time, though, especially in Western Civilization, this knife has become the most used knife in the kitchen, professional, and residential. Generally speaking, these kitchen knives are anywhere between 8 and 12 inches long. 8 inches are the most widely used length, and 10 is second most used option. You can find Chef kitchen knives in a few different materials such as Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, and Ceramic. Carbon Steel is going to be incredibly strong, incredibly sharp and pretty expensive. On the other hand, a stainless steel knife is going to be strong and sharp at first, but this can wear down quickly, which is why its very important to use sharpeners on your stainless steel kitchen knives. Stainless steel Chef knives, or any knife for that matter, tend to be low to moderately priced. A Ceramic knife can keep a sharp edge for a much longer period of time than both Carbon and Stainless Steel. However, if these get dropped, forget it. Its going to chip, guaranteed. These can also chip if you are cutting into something really hard. This actually kind of freaks me out a little bit. All I can think about is what if it breaks, and I don’t realize it, and it ends up in the food – and then someone eats it. Ugh. If you buy these, make sure you keep an eye on the tip and the edge of the knife. These should also not be placed in the dishwasher. Hand wash only!
A Chef knife can ultimately be used for anything. You can mince onions or green peppers, you can slice cuts of beef with it (cooked or raw), you can use it to cut up fruits, mince up walnut or pecans, etc. The list is limitless. Just remember if you are doing something that requires a small knife, use the paring knife. If you are doing something that requires boning, use the boning knife!
Another knife that SOME people say you need is a serrated utility knife. Do I have one? Of course. Do I use it? Hardly ever. If at all. The last time I used mine was probably 10 years ago. Its supposed to allow you to cut up delicate fruits and vegetables without tearing the skin. To that, I say: Use your paring knife and make sure its sharp! If you want to you can also get 2 paring kitchen knives. One with a soft straight edge and one with teeth. That would very well do the same thing as a serrated utility knife. A paring knife is much cheaper and takes up less room than a serrated utility knife. That’s why I say 3 knives. Its all you need. Because its true! Here are a few Chef Knives to consider havung in your own kitchen.
Wusthof Classic 8 Inch Chef Knife
This one actually comes in all sorts of sizes and types. From your typical 4.5-inch prep knife (paring) to your 8-inch Chef knife. This is a forged knife, its definitely strong and it includes a warranty which is super important to me because it means they stand behind their product. This one also is Carbon Steel so its going to be sharp right off the bat. If you take a look at a lot of the reviews its from people such as myself that went to Culinary school and bought these specific kitchen knives. One guy even said 20 years ago he bought his and they STILL perform amazingly well!
JA Henckels Classic 8 Inch Knife
This actually comes in a 10-inch option as well, but why bother? All you need is an 8 inch! Unlike some of the other kitchen knives out there, this one IS dishwasher safe. Its also made from German High Carbon Steel which means its incredibly sharp and strong. This one particularly is actually hot drop forged in terms of the blade and the bolster, which means its very well made. This is a knife perfect for chopping, mincing up garlic, dicing vegetables and more. I really like the overall look of this knife. Its not overly fancy, but its still attractive.
KUTT Chef Knife
This one is a little more fancy shmancy than all the other kitchen knives included in this article, but I figured I would include it because it does HAVE a different look to it. Its not the same old stainless steel silver blade and black handle with silver trivets. This one made of High Carbon stainless steel, of course. But it cannot be placed in the dishwasher, which is a little more inconvenient. It has a Pakka Wood Handle which is supposed to be the ultimate in comfort. If you get blisters on your hands, or your hand aches after cutting stuff up for dinner, this might be worth looking at! This one also comes with a “Metallic Soap” option, but lets be honest if you’re going to buy this knife, do it for the price or the features or, hey even the handle. But, don’t buy it for their “soap.” This is a metal oval looking thing. Its supposed to get rid of smells on your hands and knife after cutting. But, Ill let you in on a little secret, and hopefully, this magical soap included doesn’t raise the price (because its dumb lol), you can just as easily take a spoon from your utensil drawer and rub that on your hands and knife and it does the same damn thing. Nonetheless, “magic soap” or not, I still really like this knife, not because of the high carbon steel or the fact that its high quality, but just because its different!