What you need to know about kitchen knives
Everywhere you look, there seems to be slicing and dicing going on: amateur cooks on TV, recipe tutorials on social media, celebrity chefs on streaming services. Before you go out and splurge on a shiny new set of kitchen knives, maybe it’s worth getting some tips from a pro first. Paul Suleyman, a veteran butcher from South Australia and winner of this year’s Meatstock Melbourne Butcher Wars contest has plenty of insights to share.
On top of a chef’s knife, Suleyman recommends every aspiring home cook invest in a paring knife, a boning knife and a carving knife. “You want a 10cm paring knife for those small fiddly jobs: removing capsicum seeds, coring an apple or slicing a pile of veggies into sticks,” he says. “A 12 – 15cm boning knife is a versatile tool to have in the kitchen, as it can be used for any job, while a 22cm carving knife is great for carving and chopping larger vegetables.” Suleyman’s go-to is Swiss brand Victorinox: “I’ve always had a soft spot for Victorinox kitchen knives – I even used them to win the Butcher Wars. If you’re looking to get some, I’d suggest starting with their Swiss Classic Paring Knife, Boning Knife, and Swiss Classic Carving Knife.”
Quality comes first
As cliché as it may sound, Suleyman believes quality comes first, “A good quality knife can potentially last you a lifetime. So, Step One is: invest in a decent kitchen knife. Also, never put a knife through the dishwasher, as it may blunt the blade and damage the handle. It’s also important to always cut on a good cutting surface, like a wood or plastic chopping board. Do not cut on glass, marble or ceramic, as it will wear off the blade.”
“If you want your knives to last, store them properly,” Suleyman says. “The last thing you want is to have your knives knocking around with other kitchen utensils and cutlery, as it blunts the blades quickly. I prefer storing mine in a small knife roll, which I put away safely in the kitchen drawer.”
Sharp knives don’t just make your cooking easier, but they’re also better if you accidentally cut yourself – the cleaner the cut, the faster it heals. Now, to hone or to sharpen: that is the question. “Honing only straightens the blade edge of the knife – it doesn’t actually sharpen it. However, regular honing can buy you quite a lot of time until you need to sharpen your knives. With some practice, home users can master the art of honing. I’d recommend buying good quality honing steel to complete your set. When it comes time for actual sharpening, there’s a range of sharpening stones and home sharpeners available on the market. For those who think it’s too much of a challenge, just bring your knives to a professional mobile sharpening service and let them take care of you.”