Tips on Essential Knives, Sharpening & Storage
Knives are the most important tools in the kitchen, without it, you will not be able to carve desired chunks of meat or make exquisite patterns. Holding the right knife is also very important in making the cutting job easier. In this article, we will cover the fundamentals of professional kitchen knives together with tips by Chef Samson Lin on how to sharpen and store the knives.
Whether you are an aspiring chef or just looking to equip your first kitchen, there are essentially four different types of knife to look out for. With these knives, you can perform most of the specific tasks such as slicing, filleting and carving in the kitchen.
a) Chef’s Knife
A classic chef’s knife will be the most important knife in your collection. In fact, it is the go-to-tool for more than 90 per cent of daily kitchen tasks. In appearance, they are bigger and sharper than the smaller knives, allowing more work to be done. The blade is curved in such a way that allows rocking motion when chopping with minimum force and it tapers to a point for intricate tasks to be carried out efficiently.
Since it is a knife that does the most work for you, look for one that has a comfortable handle and its blade is thicker at the base than at the tip.
b) Utility Knife
You may already have been familiar with the utility knife. It is such a common tool that it is a typical find in most home kitchens. Appearing much smaller than a regular chef’s knife, its blade is normally 10-18cm long, making them easier to control. They are used for finer work, such as making shallow cuts on fruits or for cutting where considerable force over a small area is needed. It is also used on small ingredients such as shallots and mushrooms.
c) Serrated Knife
Serrated knife are blades that has a saw-like edge which is intended to move on a back and forth motion. The toothed-edge is useful not only for slicing bread but also work great with soft-skinned ingredients such as tomatoes.
d) Paring Knife
A paring knife is the smallest knife to be added to your collection. With its short blade, it looks like a miniature chef’s knife that is great for jobs that require delicate and precise work such as deveining shrimps or coring apples. Unlike a chef’s knife where it is always used on a chopping board, you can perform cutting work while holding the paring knife aloft.
From Chef Samson:
It is important to keep your knife sharp at all times. There are two ways to go about sharpening a knife:
a) Method 1: Honing Steel
Specifically speaking, honing does not actually sharpen the knife. Instead, it trues the edge of the knife. This simply means that it straightens the edge of the knife and maintains the edge for as long as it is used.
From Chef Samson:
Cutting work is much easier with a sharper knife as you can control the strength for cutting to ensure the end product turns out consistent and nice. If the knife is dull, you will need to put in more strength, running a higher risk of injuring yourself in the process.
b) Method 2: The Sharpening Stone
Another method to keep your knife in working order is by using a sharpening stone which is a whetstone or water stone. Flat and rectangular in appearance, it is the best tool for sharpening a chef’s knife. Whetstone comes in various grades, which refers to the grit size of the particles in the stone. Generally, the higher the grade, the finer the grit which leads to a finer finish of the surface of the tool. It only takes a good whetstone and some practices to keep your knives in tip-top condition.
From Chef Samson:
There are advantages for using a whetstone. It is easy to sharpen and does not damage the knife blades.
Do not overlook the importance of proper knives storage as, if done correctly, you will be able to keep them in optimal shape for a long period of time. A few ways to store knives include using magnetic knife racks and kitchen knife blocks. A magnetic knife rack mounted on the wall store the blades vertically, this will keep them safely off the counter. Alternatively, you can also store knives in kitchen knife blocks as it will prevent accident between fingers and knives when reaching out for them.
From Chef Samson:
It is important to store your knife at a place where it is safe to reach. This is to prevent injuries or accidents from happening. Make sure to keep all your knives clean and dry at all times as placing them at a dense and wet area would most likely cause them to rust.
About Chef Samson Lin
Prior to joining SHATEC, Chef Samson had 13 years of indu
stry experience under his belt. He had held key positions at leading international hotels
including Equinox and Grand Park City Hall where his expertise was in managing kitchen operations, training and development.
An active player in the world of culinary arts, Chef Samson gained extensive experience through participations at various local and international culinary competitions and working alongside numerous Michelin Starred Chefs at the World Gourmet Summit.
During his time as a member of the Singapore National Culinary Team, his team emerged as the overall champion in the 2005 International Buffet Gourmet Team at The Emirates Salon Culinary in Dubai.
Chef Samson shifted his focus into training in 2010 and is a full ACTA (WSQ Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment) certified trainer. An avid learner of special education, Chef Samson also added to his list of credentials, the Certificate in Empower Trauma Rehabilitation from Family Challenge Psychology Clinic, which authorises him to facilitate the Empower Trauma Rehabilitation, a therapeutic intervention for trauma victims.
Presently, Chef Samson has returned to his alma mater to impart his knowledge to the future generation of chefs. With his vast experience in competitive cooking, Chef Samson is the appointed coach and mentor to many of SHATEC’s culinary teams which have went on to clinch top positions at regional and overseas competitions. More recently, Chef Samson frequently travels to countries like China, Indonesia Malaysia and South Korea as SHATEC’s Chef Ambassador, promoting local culinary techniques and programmes, fostering international ties with overseas vocational institutions through friendly exchanges of culinary knowledge and skills.