August 5, 2013How-To
6 Knives You Can't Live Without
We've called on one of our new favorite chefs, Greg A. Daniels, the man at the helm of Venice Beach's latest destination dining spot, Salt Air (who formerly served as executive sous chef at New York's Jean-Georges restaurant Perry St), to share his tips for longterm cutlery happiness and his six must-have knives in a shopping list below.
Respect your knives and tools. Don't leave them dirty in a sink or toss them in a drawer jumbled with spatulas and whisks. Even neglecting to wipe off something acidic like lemon juice will dull your knives more quickly. Buy blade guards--they are cheap and worth it.
Don't go out and buy the most expensive knife on the market; if you're a novice cook, work your way up to that. A knife's price is largely dictated by the quality and hardness of the steel: hard steel holds an edge longer but is much more difficult to sharpen once it is dull.
Keeping your knives sharp will make every task easier. A $30 department store knife that is sharp is more valuable than a $1000 Japanese steel knife that is dull--and safer too. There is a great DVD that teaches how to sharpen using a stone called The Chef's Edge, and my favorite knife source Korin sells a variety of sharpening stones. Alternatively, just take your knives to a pro for sharpening.
When buying a chef's knife, it's all about what is comfortable. Hold several knives before making a purchase; feel for balance and how it fits in your hand. A length of around 8-inches is the most versatile.
Illustrations: Bianca Gonzalez Marra
|THE CHEF'S KNIFE: This is the knife that you will use for 90% of what you do in the kitchen, from cutting vegetables to meat and fish butchery. I'm partial to western-style Japanese Gyuto Knives like the Suisin Inox 210mm, which have the same familiar shape and feel of western knives, but with a blade that has a 70% angle on the cutting side and 30% angle on the back, allowing for straighter cuts. from $209, Korin|
|THE SLICER: I like the Misono UX10 Sujihiki 270mm. I use mine for sashimi, portioning fish, and meat both raw and cooked. The long thin blade makes it perfect for large cuts like whole tuna loin or carving a roast. $351, PhoenixKnifeHouse|
|THE PARING KNIFE: Feel free to pick up a cheap option in this category, as soft steel makes these knives easy to sharpen. I like J. A. Henckels' Twin Grip 4-inch Paring Knife for cutting small things like berries, peeling baby artichokes, or trimming the ends off of beans. $9, JB Prince|
|THE PEELER: It's not technically a knife, but it cuts things (like potatoes and carrots) and is just as important. Get a cheap one as they tend to dull quickly, and there is no way to sharpen them. The Kuhn Rikon Y Peeler is a staple in all professional kitchens. $4, Crate & Barrel|
|THE BREAD KNIFE: I usually frown upon the use of serrated knives for any old kitchen task, but there are certain things you do need it for: cutting bread, hard root vegetables, globe artichokes, and anything you need to saw through. Dexter Russel's Offset 9-inch Serrated Knife is a great choice. $20, JB Prince|
|THE JAPANESE MANDOLIN: The Benriner Mandolin Slicer makes cutting apples julienne and thin-slicing everything from garlic to cucumbers easy. I wouldn't dream of doing these things with a knife for the sake of time and consistency. Just watch your fingertips and always keep your hand flat or use the guard. $33, Casa|