A Good Knife Makes a Good Cook Great
There was once a time when I didn’t know the value of a good knife in the kitchen. My chopped tomatoes would look more like crushed tomatoes; my slices of bread would look like they were stepped on, and I’d wind up having to rip the meat I was trying to slice. By the time I was 18, I probably had about 30 knives sitting in the drawer. Most of them were cheap sets that I had bought at a big box store. All of them made better butter spreaders than cutting instruments.
Then it happened, one year for Christmas I received a high quality, German Santoku knife. I immediately put it to the ultimate test: slicing a tomato as thinly as I could. To my shock, I didn’t wind up crushing the tomato, instead I got a perfectly sliced round. As I continued to test the knife in various ways, it performed exceedingly well. A good knife not only makes prep and serving work easier, but food will cook more evenly if it is a uniform size and in the end your dishes will taste better.
So, from my cutlery misfortunes I’ll share with you my tips for finding the perfect knife to use in your kitchens. Plus, it’ll free up some much needed drawer space if you’re anything like I was.
Blade: I’m a traditionalist when it comes to the blade. Stainless steel is fine by me. Many newer knives are high carbon stainless steel, meaning they stay sharp longer. I don’t mind sharpening my own knives, but high carbon is the way to go if you are looking for long term sharpness. Either way, I recommend stainless steel over titanium simply because there is more heft to it. When it comes to the finish of the blade, I prefer a smooth edge over serrated. A smooth, sharp edge can do everything a serrated knife can.
Structure: Here, you definitely want a knife that has the same piece of metal running from the handle all the way through to the blade itself. You can tell by looking at the knife from a top down view: if the knife has a plastic or wooden handle, make sure that the two pieces of plastic or metal sandwich a thin strip of metal that eventually forms the blade.
Heft: You want to make sure the knife feels heavy in your hand, but at the same time you don’t want to feel like you’re lifting a cinder block. As silly as it might look, practice lifting the knife in the store to get a feel for it. I’d advise the heaviest knife you feel comfortable with.
My recommendation: Wusthof Classic Hollow-Ground Santoku Knife. This mid-price knife is an essential and can replace everything except the cleaver and paring knives in your drawer. It’d make a great stocking-stuffer for the foodies in your life.