General Purpose Knives (Western Style Blades)
Paring & Peeling
Peeling & Paring: This shape is primarily for peeling, paring, or cutting in the hand rather than on aboard. Used for tasks where a larger knife would be tricky or unsafe. Function – Primarily for peeling and paring vegetables in the hand. Normal lengths – 90mm to 135mm. Tip: This knife is a MUST for every kitchen and the ideal partner to a larger chef’s knife.
UtilityUtility: The shape is basically a small Sujihiki or slicing knife. As the name suggests it is a multi-function knife used for the preparation of vegetables and precise cutting of meat and fish. The slim profile presents a smaller area to fatty, oily, and starchy foods where a wider blade would create a stronger vacuum and ‘stick’ more to the food. Function – Multipurpose for preparing all food groups. A favourite knife of many home cooks who are uncomfortable with large blades. Normal length – 150mm Tip: This knife is also used for carving petite roasts, filleting and skinning fish as well as careful dissection of poultry without hitting bones. An extremely useful size for any kitchen.
SANTOKU (San – 3 & Toku – benefit): This is the classic Japanese chef’s knife. It is flat from the handle end for about ½ way to the tip and then gently curves to a point. It is ideal for straight vertical chopping, horizontal slicing and roll cutting. Function – Multi-purpose chef knife. For Slicing, Dicing and Mincing of vegetables, meat and fish. Normal length – 165mm to 180mm (smaller 140mm are available in a few collections) Tip: The 170mm/180mm is the most popular multipurpose knife.
GYUTO (Gyu – cow & To – sword): This is the Japanese interpretation of a Western Chef’s knife. It is flat from the handle end for about 1/3rd of the edge and then curves to the tip. It is ideal for the Western style of roll cutting. Function – Multipurpose chef knife. For Slicing, Dicing, Mincing, Filleting and Chopping of meat, fish and vegetables. Normal length – 180mm to 300mm. Tip: With the edge flat for about 1/3rd of the blade – 210 mm or longer the knife-edge profile is the same as a 180mm Santoku from the handle to tip and the same as a 180mm Gyuto from the tip to handle – so essentially a 180mm Gyuto & 180mm Santoku in one knife. The 210mm is the most favoured size for most chefs.
Bunka: This shape has an edge profile similar to a Santoku but with a very pointed tip. Ideal where the tip is needed for very precise fruit and vegetable carving or piercing soft foods. Function – Multi-purpose chef knife. For Slicing, Dicing and Mincing of vegetables, meat and fish. Normal length – 160mm to 240mm. Tip: With the acutely pointed tip more care is required than a Santoku or Gyuto to avoid breaking the tip.
Naikiri: The edge of this shape is almost flat for the entire length and is the consummate knife for the preparation of vegetables. The wide rectangular blade is ideal for scooping and the best shape for vertical chopping of hard and dense foods like cabbages, celeriac etc. Function – Vegetable knife. For Slicing, Dicing and Mincing of vegetables. Normal length – 160mm to 180mm Tip: A few models have a completely flat edge with no curve so if you need to roll cut as well as vertically chop (to Julienne or Chiffonade herbs) select a model that has a slight curve towards the tip. This is the ‘uber’ knife for vegetables.
Sujihiki & Slicers: The classic slicer. Long and thin, this is the best shape for the preparation of any flesh (meat or fish – cooked or raw) without bones. The slim profile presents a smaller are of contact with the flesh and thus reduces the strength of the vacuum between the blade and the food resulting in a smoother and easier cut. Function – Slicing and carving of meat and fish without bones. Normal length – 240mm to 300mm (a few smaller 180mm and longer 330mm are available) Tip: Whilst the 240mm or the 270mm lengths are the most popular select the longest length you are comfortable with. The longer the blade, the lesser the pressure required to cut the food and thus increase the ability to cut thinner slices. As this is one knife that is often taken to the table for carving in front of the diners, apart from the functionality, aesthetics should be an important consideration.