What kind of knife should I have?
There are many types of knives but if you can only afford one,
a chef’s knife (usually 8-inch or 10-inch) is a good bet because
it can be used for many different cutting jobs. A good second
knife to have is a paring knife, which is much smaller and good
for cutting or peeling smaller, delicate foods.
It might sound strange but it’s safer to have a very sharp knife
in the kitchen because a sharp knife will cut through food
smoothly needing less pressure from your hand compared to
a dull knife. There are inexpensive knife sharpeners available
and some kitchen stores will do promotions for free knife
sharpening throughout the year.
What’s the best way to hold a chef’s knife?
The Culinary Institute of America suggests four ways of
1. Grip the handle with all four fingers and hold the thumb
gently but firmly against the blade’s spine.
2. Grip the handle with all four fingers and hold the thumb
gently but firmly against the side of the blade.
3. Grip the handle with three fingers, rest the index finger flat
against the blade on one side, and hold the thumb on the
opposite side to give additional stability and control.
4. Grip the handle overhand, with the knife held vertically – this
grip is used with a boning knife for meat fabrication tasks.
What’s the difference between
chopping and dicing?
Recipes usually tell you what shape you should cut an
Here are the more common cutting terms:
Chop – This is a chunky type of cut. If a recipe says “coarsely
chop”, your pieces should be bigger.
Dice – A smaller cut than “chop” (usually less than ½-inch
cubes), food should be the size of playing dice. Sometimes
this is called “finely chopped.” Diced foods cook faster than
Mince – A very small cut, food is cut into very tiny pieces.
Foods that are often minced include garlic, onions and fresh
Julienne – A long, thin cut; your pieces should look like long
match sticks. This cut is often used on vegetables that you can
eat raw like carrots or leafy herbs like basil.
How do I use and store a knife safely?
Make sure your hands are dry before using a knife so
it won’t slip in your hand. Set a towel between the cutting
board and the counter top to prevent the board from slipping.
Use the right knife for the job: a paring knife for peeling and
coring, a chef knife for chopping and slicing.
Chop carefully. Curl your fingers under on the hand holding
the food to avoid cuts. This takes practice but will become
second nature. Move your hand along as the knife cuts the
food. Don’t let yourself get distracted while using a knife. If
you’re handling a knife and you drop it, step back and let it fall,
don’t try to catch it.
Never put a knife in a sink full of water. You might forget
it’s in there and cut yourself when you reach into the sink – or
someone who doesn’t know the knife is there could. Don’t put
knives in the dishwasher, because they may not be visible to
the person unloading the dishwasher. Wash knives separately
by hand, and dry completely before storing.
Don’t leave knives loose in a drawer unless they’re in
a sheath. Banging around in a drawer can ruin the edges on
your knives, and can be dangerous if someone reaches into
the drawer. Store knives in a knife block or on a magnetic rack.
Most cooks will agree that your knife is
the most important tool in the kitchen.
With just a few tips and practice, you can
become more comfortable with using
knives to prepare foods for healthy and
delicious recipes. Here are some basics.
Watch Chef Marc Anthony Bynum demonstrate
how to use a knife safely and correctly.
Knife Skills 101