One of the most important and versatile tools in every kitchen is the knife. Because there are so many types of knives from which to choose, it is important to balance your desired uses with specific knife function. Though each type of knife has different functionality, all knives have a similar basic anatomy.
Every knife consists of a handle and a blade. The sharp side of the blade is referred to as the edge and the blunt side is called the spine. Where the spine and edge meet is the point of the knife. Just under the point on the edge side is the tip: the sharpest area of the blade. For forged knives, the handle and blade are connected by a bolster, which prevents the user's hand from touching the heel of the blade edge during use.
The tang is where the blade extends into the handle to provide balance and stability. Full tang knives perform the best as the blade extends through the entire handle. Finally, the butt of the knife is the end of the handle - great for banging on the counter top to commence the preparation of a great meal.
Types of Knives
The boning knife has a sharp point and a narrow blade. Its main uses are removing bones and skin from poultry, meat, and fish. The curved blade enables thin, precise cuts.
The bread knife has a long serrated blade that is ideal for cutting foods that are hard on the outside and soft on the inside. The serrated edge can easily cut through hard crusts.
The chef knife is an all-purpose knife that can be used for a variety of cutting tasks. It can be used for chopping vegetables, slicing meat, and disjointing large cuts.
The paring knife has a short blade and is easy to handle and control. It is usually used for peeling, coring, mincing, smashing, and slicing small food items.
The Santoku knife is a Japanese-style chef knife with a wide blade that has a long straight edge and slightly curves up at the end. It can be used for a variety of tasks.
The steak knife has a sharp, serrated edge generally added to the table setting when steak is being served.
The kitchen utility knife is a cross between a chef knife and a paring knife. It can be used for slicing, dicing, and mincing vegetables, meats, and baked goods.