Kitchen knives are important and indispensable instruments in the chef’s arsenal. They come in a variety of designs and an array of different sizes corresponding to the particular culinary tasks for which they had been made for.
The Chef’s Knife is the primary kitchen cutting implement for slicing, dicing and chopping. Its size ranges from 6-12 inches in length, the most popular size being 8 inches long. The Paring Knife, which is used for peeling and carving fruits and vegetables, is a short-bladed knife with an average length of about 4 inches. The narrow-bladed Slicing Knife, used for cutting food (meat in particular) into thin slices, is typically sized from 8-12 inches long. The all-purpose Utility Knife, employed for tasks that the chef’s knife would be too big for or that the paring knife would be too small for, usually comes at an approximate length of 6 inches.
Specially designed to slice the foodstuffs for which it was named, the Bread and Tomato Knife is around 5-12 inches long. The Ham Slicer, also known as Kullenschliff or Granton, ranges from 10-12 inches in length. The Cook’s Knife lays somewhere in-between the chef’s knife and utility knife’s sizes, averaging at 6-8 inches. The Meat Cleaver is usually 6 inches in length, but the Chinese Cleaver (which, unlike the regular Cleaver, cannot cut through bone) comes at a length of 7-11 inches.
The Boning Knife, used to remove the bones of meat, poultry and fish, usually has a length 5-6 ½ inches. The Fillet Knife, basically a more flexible boning knife and used for filleting and preparing fish and chicken, has a blade roughly 6-11 inches long. Also similar to the boning knife is the Trimming Knife, with a length of approximately 2-3 inches and used for minor kitchen tasks such as peeling and decorating. Also used for such tasks is the Fluting Knife, which is about 2-4 inches long.
The Steak Knife, normally used at the table during meals and not in the kitchen, is typically around 4-6 inches in length. The Cheese Knife comes in different varieties for slicing different types of cheese. A cheese knife with a short, sharp blade is used for hard cheeses, while a blade not less than 12 inches is used for larger cheese rounds. For making sashimi, the Sashimi Knife is available in 7-15 inch sizes. The Deba Knife, another type of Japanese cutlery mainly used for fish, has a length of 7-12 inches. The Santoku Knife, noted as the Asian equivalent of the chef’s knife for its versatility, comes in at 5-7 inches in length.
In cooking, using the right ingredients is of course important. But using the right tools for preparing them is just as essential. Each of the different knife sizes serves their specific function in order to help the chef prepare dishes with great care, relative ease and utter precision.