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11 things you can do with a Chef's Knife

Max Nobel
|
31 August 2020

Like a painter has a brush, a chef has a knife. Of all the kitchen equipment you'll ever own, nothing is more indispensable than a good knife. Most Chefs have an array of knives to choose from. But if only given the choice of one: the Chef’s Knife would be the top pick. The fact that we were able to list 11 cutting techniques speaks to the versatility of the chef's knife.

With this single knife you are able to cut, dice, mince, chop and slice anything from a fine steak to fresh veggies. Whether you are a beginning cook or experienced chef, the most important tool at your disposal is your chef's knife.

So what are some of the things you can do with a Chef's Knife? Let's list some examples! Oh and be sure to check our guide on how to hold the knife safely.

The 'Chef'

Obviously! The most straightforward cutting technique is the 'Chef's chop'. Put the tip of the blade on the cutting board and push the knife through the product. Lift on the backstroke and repeat. This technique takes a little time to master but is essential in any kitchen.

Chop

Simply move the blade up and down. The flat part of the blade near the handle is perfect for chopping. This technique gives a nice straight cut. A more classic approach is to simultaneously move the knife back and forth a little so you are cutting diagonally.

Rock

Rocking is done by placing your free hand on top of the spine of the knife for added control and safety. The upward curve towards the tip of the Chef's knife allows you to lift the handle up without the blade leaving the cutting board. Rocking the knife from heel to tip is perfect for finely cut fresh herbs. It's also a great cut for breaking down hard vegetables like sweet potatoes safely.

Julienne & Dice

The julienne cutting technique is synonymous with high-end kitchens. While not the easiest to perform constantly, a sharp knife goes a long way. When cutting even strips or cubes, you can use the side of the knife to square up your work. This gives you a straight reference to start slicing or chopping while maintaining evenly sizes pieces.

Peel

Yes, even peeling is possible with a Chef's knife. Admittedly: the peeler often works better. But when in a pinch you can move your hand from the handle toward the blade of the knife to gain more control. This takes some skill. When done right is yields a very straight cut. For example when peeling a cucumber.

Fillet

The pointed tip and curved end of the Chef's knife's blade is perfect for filleting fish or deboning meat or poultry. Fish can even be de-skinned by laying the knife flat.

Score

The sharp pointed tip of the chef knife is perfect for piercing and scoring. For example when grilling salmon, scoring the skin yields a crispier result. To score the salmon skin position the knife almost straight up. Push the knife down until the fish skin is just pierced. Don't go to deep. Then drag the tip of the knife toward you to score the skin, keeping the cut shallow.

Mince

Steak tartare? Salmon tartare? Minced meat? Yes, it can be done with a Chef's knife! For a fine mince, use a rocking cut. Simple keep rocking the knife until the result is as fine or course as you want. For a more classic tartar use a slicing technique to get small, even cubes of meat or fish.

Crush

Yes! A chef's knife isn't even limited to cutting. The side if the knife is perfect for cushing! Especially useful for garlic and ginger. Simply place the knife flat over a clove of garlic and smash the side of the blade. Much faster than a garlic crusher. And one less tool to clean.

Bruise

Most aromatics and herbs benefit from being bruised to release more flavor. For this we use the back (or spine) of the knife. For example: to bruise lemongrass, simply hit is a couple times with the spine of the knife to soften it. Same goes for rosemary, sage, ginger, garlic.. you name it!

Grind

Even grinding hard spices can be done with a Chef's knife. Use the side of the blade as mill-stone. To crush pepper for example, place the knife flat over the peppercorns. Push down hard on the side of the knife and rock the handle side to side to start crushing. A trick you can use for this technique is to add some salt as an abrasive to speed things up. We've found the forging pattern on the side of our knives is perfect for this technique.

Just as food is so much more than fuel. A Chef’s knife is so much more than a knife. A great knife feels just right and is balanced. It stays sharp and true. It looks good. It is taken care of with love. A good knife has a soul.

BARE Cookware is about that soul. Because we want to make tools that last. That inspires you to cook better. BARE Knives is about craftsmanship. Because making knives is an art. Just like cooking. Simple, but hard to get perfect.  

This list of cutting techniques is by no means comprehensive, we probably missed a few. While a chef's knife is versatile, some tasks are better suited to specialised knives. Would you like to read more about specific knife types? Continue reading here.

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