Using a Knife: Master Basic Skills

Knives are very essential in cooking. However, many of us do not know how to properly use them to promote personal safety. One should know everything about a knife; from its parts to the different ways of handling it, before one is given the responsibility of cutting different kinds of meat and vegetables. Doing so will not only increase a cook’s speed but will enhance the quality of the slices as well.

knivesPhoto source: http://www.instructables.com

  1. Basic Parts of the Knife

Do you know that a knife is not only composed of the handle and the blade? It actually has seven parts. The other five parts include: the edge or the sharp side of the blade; the heel or the sharp side of the blade which is the nearest part to the handle; the bolster or the metal part which connected the blade and the handle; the rivet or the one which holds the handle and the metal part together and acts like a screw; and the tang or the edge of the knife handle and the one which is usually U-shaped or curved.

2. Basic Knife Handling

In handling a knife, you should be able to follow the reminders below:

  • In holding the knife, your thumb must be on one side of the blade and the index finger on the opposite side of the blade, then all three remaining fingers should have a good grip on the handle.
  • The force exhorted should be on the handle of the knife. Use your three fingers on gripping and your wrist should make the effort.
  • Your index finger should bend and the knuckle should rest on the blade and do not let your index finger points away from your direction.
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3. Basic Cutting

There are 4 basic cutting techniques that you should learn. These could all be very useful when you are preparing the ingredients before the actual cooking.

knife cuttingPhoto source: http://blog.simplycook.com

  • Slicing– Hold the knife properly. The edge of the knife should be resting near the chopping board while the handle should have angled upwards. Slicing should be done on a flat surface to prevent the knife from sliding over. While your one hand is holding the knife, the other should be holding the ingredients. The latter hand should be crawled; the nails should be pointing down to the chopping board to protect your fingers from being cut. This technique is used for cutting larger and harder vegetables like carrots and meat.
  • Back-slicing– Hold the knife properly and firmly. Use the back side of the edge in cutting. One hand should have a firm and crawled grip on the ingredients you are cutting. This technique is usually used in finer slices of ingredients, for example in cutting onion leeks.
  • Chopping– Unlike slicing, you should hold the knife straightly and have a firm grip on the handle. Your other hand should be crawled and hold the ingredient firmly. The other hand, which is holding the knife, should have pushed the knife firmly but gently. Do this with a steady and consistent stroke. This can be done faster, but with extra caution. This technique should be accompanied with a very sharp knife so that you can do it faster and more efficiently.
  • Rock-chopping– Like slicing, it has the same position. The tip of the edge resting on the chopping board and the handle is angled upwards. The only difference is that your other hand should be holding the opposite side of the tip’s edge of the blade. Then, put your force on the handle and rock-chop the ingredients. This technique works best if you want a finely minced vegetable like garlic and celery.
  1. Basic Sharpening

To be able to master the basic skills in using a knife, you should always check the edge of the knife and whether it is still sharp. If not, you can use a sharpening tool to keep it in top shape or you can simply buy a new one to replace it.

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