Learning knife skills for gourmet cooking is very important because knives are the most important items in your tool kit. A chef can accomplish a number of tasks quickly and efficiently with a good, sharp knife. High quality knives are expensive, but will last for many years with proper care.
It is because high quality knives obtain and keep an extremely sharp edge, one capable of slicing off a good part of a finger in a split second, that knife skills are a critical part of a cook’s training. If you are going to spend a lot of time preparing food, acquiring superior knife skills for gourmet cooking is the single most important thing you need to do.
Using Your Knife Safely
- Use the correct knife for the task.
- A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one, so always keep your knives sharp.
- Keep your knife pointed down by your leg when carrying it.
- Do not attempt to catch a falling knife.
- Never leave a knife in a sink of water.
Sharpening Your Knife
A sharpening stone is also called a whetstone. It is used to put an edge on a dull blade. To use, place the heel of the blade against the whetstone at a 20 degree angle. Press down on the blade while pushing it away from you in one long arc, as if to slice off a thin piece of stone. Repeat the procedure on both sides until sharp.
A steel does not sharpen a knife. It is used to straighten the blade after and between sharpenings. To use, place the blade against the steel at a 20 degree angle. Draw the blade along the entire length of the steel. Repeat the procedure on both sides.
Washing Your Knife
Do not wash knives in dishwashers. The blade and the handle can be damaged. Always wash and dry your knives by hand after use. While not among the following videos showing knife skills for gourmet cooking, this is a must!
Gripping Your Knife
There are many different ways to grip a knife. Use the grip that is most comfortable to you and don’t grip too tightly.
1. The most common grip: Hold the handle with three fingers while gripping the blade between the thumb and index finger.
2. Grip the handle with four fingers and place the thumb on the front of the handle.
3. The underhand grip for a rigid boning knife: Grip the handle in a fist with four fingers and thumb. This grip allows you to use the knife tip to cut around joints when boning meat and poultry.
Controlling Your Knife
Keeping your fingertips curled back, grip the item being cut with three fingertips and your thumb.
Keep the knife in the other hand. Keep the knife’s tip on the cutting board, lift the heel of the knife.
Using the second joint of your index finger as a guide, cut a slice using a smooth, even, downward stroke. For this slicing technique, the knife’s tip acts as the fulcrum.
Hopefully you will study and take to heart these short videos showing the proper knife skills for gourmet cooking. I assure you, avoiding injury should be first on your list of things to do.
I personally recommend Wusthof Knives. If I had to choose one good knife to get, it would have to be the 8″ Cook’s (Chef) Knife. I find that I use it the most for chopping, slicing, etc. The whole set of knives are not cheap, but they will last forever.
When it comes to food preparation, nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than acquiring professional-level knife skills for gourmet cooking!