I love gadgets, and this love translates itself very well in the kitchen; my wife usually ends up dragging me away from shop displays at those hip kitchen appliance boutiques that seem to have popped up everywhere. But no amount of fancy gadgets can replace a good set of knives; at least for the amateur cook like me. This certainly doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy the worlds most expensive 12 piece knife set, in my short experience with cooking, I have found that one can get through almost all knife related tasks with just three good knives (you can arguably get away with just one, it’s just the set of three will make all tasks much easier). At the very beginning of my discovery of the joy of cooking I read a really fun book, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, in it he clearly advises not to be conned into thinking that the most expensive and biggest knife set is the best, and so, after the jump, I’ll share with you what I think are the most important knives to own.
Regarding knife brand, I’ve opted for Global; they look awesome, have featured in American Psycho and more importantly, feel really good in my hand, although on the expensive side, there are certainly many brands out there that are far more expensive. This certainly is not an endorsement for the brand, it’s very important that the knife feels good in your hand; so don’t be embarrassed to ask the shop attendants to show you their display pieces so that you can compare their feel before you make your purchase. Even a mid range knife can be quite expensive and shouldn’t be replaced for years if well taken care of, so make sure it feels right when you hold it.
Onto the knives; the single most important knife to own is a Chef’s knife, this is usually an 18-20cm knife with a sturdy and wide blade and a flat top, you will use it for almost all tasks; chopping vegetables, butchering cuts of beef, lamb or fish, sweeping your counter clean (hence the flat top), smashing garlic etc etc. An invaluable weapon in your culinary arsenal, choose it well and take good care of it.
The next knife is a utility knife, which is almost like a chef’s knife but smaller with an 8-12cm blade. This knife can help you with more delicate tasks, like dicing garlic, chopping herbs and shallots. It’s probably your second most important knife.
For the third knife I was debating whether to select a serrated blade knife or another straight blade; although serrated blades can come in handy at times (bread and tomatoes) you’ll find that the chef’s knife can usually take care of business with relative ease, and so I figured that it’s best to recommend a fish knife. With its thin and flexible blade, this knife is perfect for removing fish skin and filleting whole fish, no other knife can function as well, so if you intend on working with lots of fish, here’s your third for sure.