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The Wonders of Chef's Knife
June 14 (Monday)Cooking Techniques- Cooking Utensils
Whoever designed and patented the Chef’s knife or the French knife became very rich. Why? Because it’s the most used utensil in the kitchen. The shape, the length, the blade…what more can I say. From cutting meat, making vegetable salad, designing garnishing or paring the core of an apple, it can function the specialties of other knives. You can even peel potatoes without looking for a potato peeler. From the handle to the tip, the flexibility of this knife is beyond compare. No doubt it’s the most sought after by kitchen personnel, from the chef to the mess man.
Let me refresh my mind about kinds of knives, from largest to smallest or vice versa. As an apprentice onboard ship in 2001, I’ve been cut, bruised and victimized by these knives accidentally while peeling vegetables, like potatoes; cutting pork or beef bones, even lamb carcass. So, how can I forget this set of dangerous tool in the kitchen?
Bread knife - as the name indicates is used mainly on breads and cakes, cutting or slicing.
Cleaver knife - used to cut bony parts of meat. Chinese cleaver knife is the multi-purpose knife in Asia, especially in China but it‘s slimmer than the carbon-steel versions that are used to cut hard bones of cow’s meat or even lamb carcass onboard ship.
French or chef’s knife - This is the chef’s choice. Not too large, not too small. It can perform any task in the galley.
Boning knife - is used to de-bone meats.
Fork knife - My Greek cook used to puncture or prick the meat to let its juice out when baking.
Salad or table knife - as its name indicate is used when eating salads or cutting meat and other dishes into small parts. It is a part of prepared utensils in table setting.
Steak knife - is an optional knife to the dining table. I will change the setting of table knives into steak knives whenever I prepare beef steak as a meal.
Paring knife - is usually used when peeling fruits and vegetables. I became accustomed of this when peeling potatoes or apples.
Did I miss something? Well, help me out if I've forgotten something.
How To Use Knives
Kitchen knives can be fatal when used dangerously. To use it, you must know first the uses of it in the kitchen or galley. You will never make errors or commit accidents if you know how to use it properly. Let me just focus on chef’s knife.
Grasp the knife’s handle by putting your thumb at the front of the handle encircled by your forefinger and middle finger. The ring finger and the pinky will act as support encircled near the rear of the handle. It’s just like grasping a baseball. The first three fingers have the most leverage or force. It will also guide you how to infuse force on the meat or vegetable you’re cutting.
You’re other hand will help you grasp the thing you’re about to cut. You’ll not handle the meat or vegetable with protruding fingers. You’ll just put you’re hand (usually left) in closed position, only the knuckles will touch the meat or vegetables you’ll cut.
Backward sliding motion is the appropriate cutting direction of a knife. You will set the tip of the knife at an angle beneath the thing you’re about to cut then proceed the cutting motion, in and out, always going backward.
“Be careful with your hands,” my chief officer said. Well, I always remember what he said. It’s too painful to loose a finger or my whole hand.
I will attest that there's no other tool as old as knife. It transcends world history wherein man (during Stone Age) fought for his existence in the jungle with just a crude knife (called flintstone) on his hands (and other wooden tools like bow and arrow), hunting for food, making house for his shelter and carving his first written words at the bark of the trees or even leaves.
Most of the world's countries have a knife related to their culture and history. This is one reason why knife collecting has become an increasingly popular hobby. Long, slim bolo knives were uniquely suited to the sugar cane and jungle work of the Philippines. Machetes from South America are a heavier jungle knife suited for clearing dense rain forest vegetation. Curved, wicked-looking Ghurka knives are used by the renowned Ghurka fighters of India. Of course, America's own Bowie Knife has made its place in history. The Bowie was handcrafted, and those looking for the finest in knives today still must look to the hands of the skilled craftsman.
Travel Man used knife as weapon. When I was provoked by my Greek cook, I was so angry that my senses grew dim. It happened because all he was giving me for my first eight days on board ship during my second contratct was leftover spoiled meat from the provision room. We exchanged harsh words; the big man wrestled me. I struggled and looked for a weapon to defend myself. Of all the things I saw in the galley, was the shining chef's knife. When I looked at him again, all I could see was a very little man. I was ready to strike him with the knife but the mess man shouted; that made my senses back to normal. I reported the galley incident to the Greek captain. I was ready to be sent back home but my very humble master weighed the situation and gave me an order to get my own ingredients direct to the ship's provision room. So, there all the Filipinos were happy with the result of the incident because they've eaten fresh vegetable meals and meats from then on. The Greek cook? Well. he humbled himself, too and say sorry for what happened. His treatment to the Filipinos became fair. Thanks to the chef's knife.
How To Use A Chef's Knife c/o FOODofLOVE1
Seafarers have been dealt with businessmen onboard ship regarding low priced set of knives, with all the fancy casings or storage (like attache case). Well, if you pass the US Customs Knife Department, then you can bring it home. There were incidents that seafarers were questioned about those knives by the authorities. We all know that boarding a plane will prohibit you to bring deadly weapon onboard (if you accidentally handcarried it).
Well, the safest way is to order your fancied type of knives...kitchen knives or military knives, whatever.
1. eBladestore.com has all the connections about knives' dealers around the world, from the Bowie knife of USA to the famed Batangas knife in the Philippines. There's a knife catalog that they can offer to you. There are brands that you choose from. Just remember that you will use it for good purpose, if you purchase one or a set of it.
2. Knife WORLD Magazine offers subscription to all interested persons around the world and know interesting facts about this unique invention. You can search information direct to its website http://www.knifeworld.com/.