The knife is probably the most important tool aside from your cooking pots and pans. It enables you to prep your food according to the recipes and simplifies the entire cooking experience. Many of the most renowned chefs around the world understand how the cooking knife works and they have spent hours mastering some of the skills.
With some in-depth research, we managed to track down the best chef knife tips and tricks used by some of the top chefs around the world. If you are a beginner, these tips and tricks could make life so much easier and you should enjoy cutting and dicing in the kitchen once again. These tips are really easy to master, but some might take practice.
Tips and Tricks
When using these tips and tricks, you definitely need to have some kitchen experience. The basics are always the most important and you should ensure you are safe when using sharp tools in the kitchen. Here are the best tips and tricks for using a chef knife that we think every chef should know when cooking.
Use the “choke” hold:
Most of the pros refer to it as “choking up” and instead of using the handle of the knife for your grip, you can slide your hands slightly higher. This will keep them protected so that you have a little more control. Instead of placing your index finger on the blade, you will now hold the blade in place with your thumb and index finger. For those slicing and dicing, this adds a lot more in terms of overall balance.
Use the back of the blade:
The backend of the blade is often underutilized and it is one of the strongest parts of the blade. Often times, it also a little thicker and offers much more weight. When you will be cutting your smaller foods with the center, tougher foods will be much easier to cut through when using the back of the blade. With the “choke-hold”, it is also easier to access the part of the blade.
Always ensure the blade is sharp:
This might be one of those tips that you will be laughing at when you see it, but there are many entry-level chefs who forget this as a basic. The blade should be razor sharp and it will simplify cutting tougher ingredients. When the blade is sharp, it enables the chef to make the perfect cut and this is really important when serving clients at a professional level.
Use the right blade for the right job:
As you should know by now, not all of the blades are the same and many of them have different features. Cutting meat requires a serrated edge for easily tearing into the meat, but with vegetables, you will not be using a serrated edge. Using the right knife will make life very easier for you when prepping.
Protect your fingers:
The hand holding object you are cutting might sometimes come in the firing line and you should protect your fingers at all costs. By placing your fingers on the object and your knuckles behind the back of the blade, you should not need worry about any problems. It can also assist the cutting motion to be more fluent.
Ensure you are working on a stable surface:
If the surface is not solid, you might cause some accidents and this might lead to a couple of problems when you are cooking. A solid surface will add to the balance and your movement will also be much more fluent. This will ensure perfectly cutting of food and vegetables.
Use a cutting board:
In most modern kitchens, granite can be found as the material used for the construction of the surface. While granite does look great and it is also really durable, the surface is rather slippery and your knife might easily slip if you cut too hard into the surface. The wooden or plastic cutting boards are designed to contain the momentum of the knife.
Always cut fruits and vegetables with the flat side down:
It is much easier to cut a fruit or vegetable in half and lay the flat side on the table. This makes it much more stable. If the object does not have stability, it can also be a real risk to cut and may roll or slide out of your grasp. Safety is the most important part of using a cutting knife for prepping.
Lay the knife down when handing it over:
We are often taught to turn the knife around when we hand them to someone else. However, this is not always the safest route to go. By laying the knife down on the counter, they can pick it up as they see fit. It also removes any chances of you being responsible for injuring them.
Hold the knife down when walking:
Walking or running with a knife can be hazardous to you and the other people you are sharing the kitchen with. By holding the knife down, you will be avoiding any problems and the knife will not be in the position of causing any damage.
Store your knives correctly:
Leaving your knives in a tray can also be fine, but with all the other tools hitting and bumping into one another, it could be problematic. Using a wooden block is the best way to keep the knife protected from any damage.
Use a decent brand:
Doing some research into the quality of your knife is fundamentally important. With so many rip-offs on the market today, you should definitely do some research or choose a trusted brand.
Never throw the knife into the dishwater:
The knife must be cleaned, but you should never throw the knife into dishwater with other dishes if you cannot see it. The knife will most likely be very sharp and this can cause some real pain when you accidentally hit the knife with your hand.
Never taste food using the knife:
While it is fine to use the knife for cutting the pieces you want to taste, the knife itself should never come close to your mouth. These knives are really sharp and accidents can happen in a matter of seconds.
Keep your hands clean before using a knife:
Once you do have an accident and you cut into your flesh, you don’t want it to become infected. Working with clean hands will not only be beneficial for your food, but also for any open wounds that might be infected.
Never catch a falling knife:
Should the knife accidentally fall from the counter, you should not attempt to try and catch it. Since the knives are really sharp, it can be very painful and damaging if you do attempt to catch the knife.
Manipulate the handle for an ergonomic fit:
Most of the best chef knives are those that fit perfectly in their hands. This is a real benefit and while buying a knife like this can be really expensive, you can change the handle. If a wooden handle offers you more grip, you should invest in an upgrade.
Consider using scissors for opening things:
Bags can be problematic to open and you sometimes simply use the knife in the air when you are doing this. The knife can be used for this, but when using a knife, you should place the bag on a stable surface before cutting. Otherwise, we would recommend that you consider using scissors.
The knife is not a can opener:
If you don’t have a can opener, the knife can be handy to open it up. However, this can be very risky and can lead to some serious injury as well. If you are using a knife as a can opener, you need to understand exactly how. It is also worth noting that it might damage the knife.
Keep it away from children:
This tip should be self-explanatory and it is fundamentally important to keep your sharp objects out from the reach of children. The knife should be either placed on a counter that is out of reach or in a locked cupboard if the child can reach it.
The knife is not for opening champagne bottles:
Champagne bottles can be opened with a knife and many of the flashy chefs have done this. However, it is not recommended. The knife might slip and cause harm or simply break the bottle. With some practice, this can be mastered over time.
The fish knife is important:
While you might not think this way but the fish knife actually does serve a purpose. Since the fish is already delicate, you will be protecting the flesh when using a fish knife. However, your best chef knife can still be used for cutting and gutting the fish.
Use a different knife for gutting:
We all know that gutting something can be disgusting and you might have time to wash the knife. This is where having two knives will play in your favor. You can use the one for gutting and the other for cutting.
Practice makes perfect:
The only way to truly understand your knife is to use it. As you become more accustomed to the feel of the knife, you will begin to understand it and it will also be much easier to handle. Practice is fundamentally important when becoming a chef.
Key Features To Look For When Buying A Knife:
As a chef, there will be different features you need to consider when compared to someone like a hunter or survival expert. Once you understand these features, you can easily find the best knives for your needs. Here are the main features you need to keep in mind:
There are multiple types of best kitchen knives and they all serve their own purposes. When selecting a decent knife, you need to understand which knife you are looking for. As a beginner, we would recommend buying a set of best knives to get you started and have you well prepared.
This will vary from person to person and it will depend on which part of the knife you are most comfortable using. If you love the back, you should try to find something that is heavier at the back of the knife.
The handle is one of the most important parts of the knife and you need have the utmost in terms of comfort. If you cannot feel the handle, you should try something similar to see if you are comfortable using it.
The overall weight of the knife is also really important. If the knife is too heavy, it might not be comfortable and this is where you need something lighter. Heavier chefs knives are mostly used for cutting tougher objects.
Balance is important to your comfort and this will relate to the weight distribution of the knife. However, you might use more than your favorite part of the blade and this means you need even weight distribution. Balance the knife if possible or try to seek out the current level of balance the knife has.
Stainless steel is mostly used in some of the cheaper blades, but if you become more professional, you might be looking for a better blade. Carbon steel is often recommended as the best material and it is definitely much lighter as well. However, the durability is the most important aspect.
Bone handles were commonly used for some of the older knives. While they were perfect at the time, they did lack some durability. These handles are often slippery and your hands might slip. They can also become rather brittle over time.
Consider buying a set:
Buying a set of best chef knives will be a little more expensive up front. However, in the longer run, you will be saving more money. A set of knives can be extremely helpful and you will already have a knife for every part of the cooking process. Nevertheless, keep in mind that buying a quality knife is really important for the longevity.
Add a sharpener to the kit:
Knives work that much better when they are sharp and when adding a knife sharpener, you will be able to periodically keep the knives sharp and ready for use. The sharpener is something you will need to buy eventually and we would recommend buying it with the kit from the onset.
Consider shopping online:
Online is the best place to find exactly what you are looking for. You might even strike gold and find cheaper prices for your knife. When looking for a knife, it is important not to focus on the price, but on the quality. We do recommend online shopping for the savings that might come with it.
Knives are useful and handy tools to have and they can be your best assistance in the kitchen. They also have many use cases and we would recommend a quality knife as the second most important thing aside from your pots and pans. These tips and tricks should help you when it comes to finding the right knife and using it to your advantage.
We would like to thank you for reading this article and encourage you to share some of your thoughts on the tips and tricks. Let us know in the comment section if you have found them helpful and if you might have any more tips and tricks that we might have missed.