The right knife is an absolute must in any commercial kitchen. From slicing vegetables to cutting meat, kitchen cutlery plays a vital role in all food preparation. Because choosing the right knife or set of knives can be a daunting task, we’ve broken down the most common types of cutlery and what they’re used for to help you make the right choice.
Asian Knives: Speciality knives such as the usuba, santoku, and nakiri knives work well in a number of different settings. Generally speaking, the usuba and nakiri knives are used for vegetables, while the santoku is a bit more versatile but primarily works well when it comes to slicing, dicing, and mincing.
Boning Knives: These knives are designed to shape meat and separate meat from the bone. Easily remove parts of meat you don’t want while shaping the cuts you do want. Boning knives usually vary from 5-7 inches long and can either be stiff or flexible. Stiff boning knives are usually made for tougher cuts of meat; while flexible boning knives are made for shaping and filleting meat such as poultry and fish.
Carving Knives: Ideal for making thin cuts of meat, a carving knife is commonly used for precision and accuracy. These knives are long and thin, often times slightly smaller than a slicing knife, and feature blades that are usually 8-12 inches long. Carving knives also boast the ability to cut through meat in one fluid motion.
Chef Knives: A common sight in most any kitchen, a chef’s knife, otherwise known as a cook’s knife, features a wide blade and is best used for slicing, chopping, and mincing. Chef knives can be used with a variety of ingredients, including vegetables as well as certain cuts of meat like poultry.
Fillet Knives: Comprised of a thin, flexible blade, fillet knives are primarily used with fish. Because of their flexible nature, fillet knives are not used for tougher cuts of meat. Blade sizes for fillet knives usually range in size from 6-9 inches and are best used for delicate cuts of meat such as fish and veal.
Oyster/Shelling Knives: Designed specifically for shucking and removing oysters, oyster and shelling knives feature thick blades that are less sharp than most knives. These knives come in a wide variety of styles and are used to open and remove the oyster from its shell.
Paring Knives: Paring knives are used for detailed, intricate work; they are a versatile knife often used for actions such as peeling, coring, cutting, and more. These knives are offered in a variety of styles and blade types, such as: spear point, bird’s peak (downward, curved blade), and sheep’s foot (rounded tip with a straight edge).
Serrated/Bread Knives: Bread knives are generally long and feature a serrated edge in order to cut through bread without ripping or tearing the bread. These knives are designed with a straight or slightly curved blade. Depending on the design, some bread knives feature an offset handle to prevent hitting one’s knuckles on the cutting surface.
Slicing Knives: Used primarily for slicing cooked meat, slicing knives are a common sight in most commercial kitchens. Generally speaking, these knives are 8-12 inches long and have a long, narrow blade with a round, blunt tip. Slicing knives also come with either wavy or straight edges, are longer than a carving knife, and are made to create smooth cuts of meat.
Steak Knives: A fairly common knife, a steak knife is exactly what its name portrays — a knife that cuts steak. However, these knives can also be used for other types of meat as well. It’s also common to see these knives used both behind the scenes in the kitchen as well as by customers.
Utility Knives: These knives are as their name says — useful knives that are designed for a variety of purposes. Utility knives are primarily used for cutting, peeling, slicing, and more, usually with fruits and vegetables. This is a mid-sized knife that is larger than a paring knife but smaller than a chef’s knife. Utility knives also feature either wavy or serrated edges.
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