A quality knife is an essential addition to your kitchenware collection. But, when choosing what to buy, it can be a daunting, confusing task to select the appropriate type for the purpose. We chatted to Shannon Thomson, Houseware General Manager for Wiltshire, to discuss this topic and to differentiate between two relevant terms. Here’s what she had to say:
Although the terms are misleading, there is no difference between a cook’s knife and a chef’s knife. It is simply a case of having two different names for the same instrument. In fact, it is sometimes called a French knife too.
The modern version of this knife is a multipurpose tool designed to perform many different kitchen tasks well, rather than being appropriate for only one specific purpose. Two common styles of blade are available, French and German, each having a different cutting edge. The French style has an edge that is straight until near the tip where it curves upwards. German-style blades, however, are more deeply and continuously curved along the whole cutting edge. Which you prefer is a matter of personal choice; neither is inherently superior.
The length of the blade may vary – typically from 15 to 20 centimetres – but generally it’s neither too long for chopping herbs or peeling garlic, nor too short for slicing fruit, vegetables or meat.
A Japanese version of the cook’s knife, the santoku – meaning ‘three good things’ – has recently gained popularity in the West. The distinctive downward curving top edge of the blade, called a sheepsfoot, is designed for cutting fish, vegetables and lightly boned meats such as chicken. Scalloped recesses on the blade help to limit drag while slicing.
To sum up: a cook’s or chef’s knife is the most versatile knife in the kitchen. If you own only one of these utensils, it should be one of the variations described above.
For more details on kitchen knives visit the website of kitchenware company Wiltshire at wiltshire.co.za.