When I first began my cooking and coaching business, I often traveled to clients’ homes and taught healthful cooking techniques; or, if they had no desire to learn, I would prepare wholesome delicious meals for them. Before arriving, I would inquire if they had a good knife. The reply would always be, “Yes, of course, we have plenty of good knives.”
Inevitably, when I entered their kitchens and viewed the countertops filled with mounds of colorful produce that needed to be chopped, sliced, and diced, I asked the infamous question once again, “Do you have a good knife?” At that point I would be handed a large dull butter knife masquerading as a chef’s knife. Attempting to cut through a thick winter squash with a dull knife can quickly become hard labor.
It’s no wonder people don’t want to get into the kitchen and cook!
The one tool above all others I highly recommend purchasing is a professional chef’s knife or Santoku knife (Japanese version similar to a French chef’s knife, but without a pointed tip). This purchase will make your efforts in the kitchen feel like a smooth breeze instead of a harrowing hurricane! A good quality professional knife could greatly enhance your culinary experience and gustatory growth. I promise.
There is no need to buy an entire knife collection (chef’s knife, paring knife, boning knife, bread knife, cleaver, and vegetable knife), and a knife block, unless of course you want to. You really only need one good knife (a sharp one) to help with most of the chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing tasks.
To purchase the perfect knife, it helps to literally try it on. I’m sure you wouldn’t buy a pair of jeans straight off the rack without trying them on to see how they feel (and look) on your derriere. Think of your knife the same way and don’t purchase it without trying it on.
At the kitchen supply store, the professional knives are usually locked up inside glass cases. Ask the clerk for three or four professional chef knives of varying sizes (some have longer/larger blades than others), preferably carbon steel with a full tang.
The tang is the metal part of the blade that extends into the handle. Ideally, you want the metal to extend all the way through the handle. Having a “full tang” will keep your knife handle from coming loose and falling apart (see picture at right).
Hold each knife, one at a time, in your hand, and feel it; lift it up, make chopping motions in the air or on the counter (be careful not to scare or cut anyone). Make sure your hand easily holds the weight of the knife.
Find the knife that feels right for you. If you are comfortable holding your knife, you will be more proficient in the kitchen and less likely to cut yourself. You will also be less likely to cut yourself if you’re using a sharp knife. A dull knife leads to accidents because you have to struggle with it.
Please do not let price dissuade you from making the best choice. This is one kitchen tool you will have for numerous years, quite possibly an entire lifetime.
I’ve had one of my Santoku knives (Henckel from Germany) for over a decade! It was a great investment, about $85 at the time and has given me many years of service.
As a matter of fact, you can purchase an entire knife collection plus a knife block for just about the same amount of money that I spent on one knife. Spend anywhere from fifty to two hundred dollars, or even more, on an excellent knife. You are making an investment in your health and you are worth every penny.
Excerpted from: Health is Wealth – Make a Delicious Investment in You!