Knives, good ones, can be very pricey, but how many knives do you need? And do you need to most expensive ones? I have seven, but I use only four, three really, as two are paring knives. The other two are a chef’s knife and an offset serrated knife. I have a long slicing knife I rarely use, even if I’m slicing, and a boning knife I don’t think I’ve used in over a year. I also have a beautiful knife I got in Indonesia called a woman’s knife, but it is carbon steel, and I broke the tip off it shortly after I got it.
Carbon knives are wonderful, you can get them sharper than stainless steel blades but the steel is soft so they need to be sharpened constantly and they turn black if you don’t dry them immediately. When I got my first apartment my mom bought me two carbon knives; a slicer, and a chef’s knife. I wouldn’t let anyone else use them, and I cared for them well. I still have them somewhere, though I’m not sure where that is.
The most used of my many knives is my offset serrated knife. I bought it at Bridge Kitchenware in 1993 and it cost a staggering $75.00. I had just completed my culinary school externship, and George, the pastry chef I worked with had one. I use it for almost everything from slicing bagels to chopping chocolate. Most people don’t understand the mechanics of a serrated knife and try to press the blade into whatever they are cutting rather than using a sawing motion. When my family was here last week I watched almost every one of them trying to push the knife through their bagels.
There is a superstition that if you give a knife as a gift you will sever the friendship. To avoid this the giver is cautioned to tape a penny to the gift which the recipient then hands back to the giver, making this an exchange rather than a gift. The Japanese knife maker Masakage includes a five yen coin with their knives for the same reason. You may want to keep this in mind as we head into wedding season as many couples include knife sets when they register for gifts.
If you’re planning to get someone a knife set as a gift, why get one for $300 plus when you could get them what they need for under $100 if you add a nice steel? I got my daughter the Victorinox 8″ chef’s knife, and it’s a great knife, and reasonably priced. I’d prefer an offset serrated knife to the one recommended. I think mine may be a Henckels knife, but any marking on it is no longer visible.Honestly, I’m happy to get a fairly inexpensive paring knife and replace it every few years. I recently got a nice Zyliss for $8.00.
Whatever knives you decide you need, or you need to get for someone else, it’s your knife skills, not the knife that will determine your success. Make sure your cutting board is secured and not slipping around. Keep your knives sharp, and be careful! Chances are unless you’re doing butchery work at home three is how many knives you need to do most cooking.