Sharpen Up in the Kitchen
Would you like to impress your dinner party guests with beautifully-presented dishes? Or perhaps you’re looking to speed up food preparation to save time in the kitchen. Well, however you’re looking to improve your culinary techniques, a great place to start is by refining your knife skills.
If you don’t yet know your julienne from your batonnet, it can be difficult to know where to start. And whilst there is a whole host of cooking TV shows and cookery books dedicated to recipes and ingredients, many home cooks are clueless when it comes to using kitchen knives correctly. But a good set of kitchen knives and the knowledge of how to use them correctly can really improve your cooking.
Not only does food look better when it has been cut neatly but good knife skills can improve the taste of your recipes too as ingredients will cook more evenly. For example, a stir-fry can be transported from ‘okay’ to ‘magnificent’ simply by cutting the ingredients to the right thickness and a salad is much more appealing when it is beautifully presented with ingredients that have been cut neatly, rather than randomly sliced.
Where to Start?
The first step to great knife skills is a good set of knives. If you cook regularly, then it really is worth investing in a high-quality set. The best knives are expensive but you do get what you pay for so it’s worth spending as much as you can afford. Find out what each knife in the set is designed for and then always use the correct knife for the correct task – for example, one knife may be for carving meat whilst another is for preparing vegetables.
Once you have a good set of knives, it’s important to keep them sharp. A blunt knife will slow you down and having to exert more pressure when chopping can cause accidents as you are more likely to slip and cut yourself. You can use a sharpening stone to sharpen knives at home or some cook’s shops will sharpen knives for you.
Be careful when using a new set of knives as they can be incredibly sharp and even a tiny lapse in concentration can have disastrous results. When using knives always keep your full attention on the job and don’t be distracted. When chopping, hold the food with your fingers curled under towards the palm of your hand. Keep a firm grip on the food and as you chop move your fingers back a little each time you cut. Ask the retailer if they offer this service when you buy a new set of knives.
It may sound obvious but cleaning your knives properly is important too. Clean knives are not only more hygienic but also help preserve the life of your knife set to ensure years of service. Always wash and dry knives straightaway after using them and then put them back in the knife block. Never leave knives to soak in a bowl or to dry in a rack – not only can this cause rusting but can also be dangerous if you forget that the knife is there and then cut yourself when reaching into the washing-up bowl or drying rack.
The best way to brush up your knife skills is to take a professional course. Take a look on the Internet to find one-day courses in your area.