I’ve met so many home cooks who just don’t get why chefs are so attached to their knives and why they need so many different types. Some even think it pretentious that cooks insist on high quality, versatile knife collections. They cannot fathom the added speed and facility which good knives can give during food preparation. They are unaware of the dangers of using the wrong type of knife for a certain purpose or one with a dull edge. Here are short descriptions of five types of usual and slightly unusual knives and how they can help in a professional kitchen.
It is important to note that almost equally as important as investing in good knives is investing in a good knife sharpener. Even the highest quality knife needs to be kept in top shape in order to do its job efficiently and safely.
1. Chef Knives
Of course, any discussion about knives in a professional kitchen must include some type of statement in praise of chef knives. Chef knives have long, relative big blades and are a versatile option, cutting anything from vegetables to meat. Many different sizes are available, with both the blades and handles made from a variety of materials. The type of blade preferred depends on the cook, but having a knife composed of one, continues piece of metal allows for efficient cleaning. The size of the knife is important as well. Small-built cooks may have a hard time maneuvering extra-large knives, while some of the small, thinner chef knives I’ve encountered can be uncomfortable to hold and cut with, sometimes even chafing away at hand skin. (…Read More…)
In the 1700s, some Europeans believed that tomatoes were poisonous, due to fatalities associated with eating them. However, it was later discovered that the problem was not with the tomatoes, but rather the cookware used to cook and serve them: pewter. The high acidity of the tomatoes caused lead from the pewter to leach into the food, causing poisoning. Though the cookware of today is generally recognized as safe, the incidence that occurred in the 1700s highlights the importance of cooking foods with the right cookware. The types of materials available for cookware make it hard to choose which to buy and which to forgo. By having a variety of cookware, made from different materials, food businesses can make themselves as comfortable as possible. Materials can be selected based on the purpose they will serve as well as the budget of the venue.
Aluminum is typically one of the cheapest options for cookware. Though it is relatively versatile and lightweight, aluminum can react with acidic foods, leading to a metallic taste and aluminum consumption. Studies have shown that consuming aluminum may be dangerous to health, hinting that cooking with aluminum should be done with caution (acidic ingredients should not be cooked using aluminum cookware). Anodized aluminum is less reactive due to having undergone treatment, making it a better, but more expensive option when compared to regular aluminum cookware.
Cast-iron is often a top choice for stovetop cooking, since it distributes heat efficiently and is relatively heavy duty. Egg dishes such as Israeli shakshuka and stews can be started on the stove in a cast-iron pan and finished in the oven. (…Read More…)