What is proper knife technique when cooking at home?

Author Name
Answered by: Peter, An Expert in the Required Tools and Equipment Category
Proper Knife Technique

Whether you're an experienced chef or someone who enjoys cooking at home for friends and family on the weekend, familiarizing yourself with some basic culinary techniques can be an effective way to maximize kitchen efficiency and safety. Even if you don't aspire to be the next Food Network star, knowing a few of the tricks of the trade will greatly enhance your enjoyment when working in your own kitchen.There are few skills in a professional kitchen more fundamentally essential than proper knife technique. In the hands of a trained chef, a knife is a powerful and efficient tool. In the hands of a novice, a knife can be an ineffective and occasionally dangerous accessory. So, where should you begin if you're looking to bone up on your knife skills?

Know Your WeaponThe first place to start is with your knife itself. A good, general purpose chef's knife is a simple instrument with a four inch handle and an eight inch blade. The handle should be easy to grip and the blade should be roughly two inches high at its thickest point, tapering slightly toward the tip of the knife. While cleavers and scimitars have increased in popularity over the years, resist the urge to buy that sexy blade your favorite TV chef is using until you've mastered some basic technique with a standard chef's knife. As with any developed skill set, the simplest tools create the foundation upon which success is built.

The Non-Knife Hand

Once you've got a knife that feels comfortable, the next step is to familiarize yourself with the proper positioning of the fingers on your non-cutting hand. One of the most common mistakes amateur cooks make is to leave their fingertips exposed, making it easy to accidentally drag the knife across the fingers or, conversely, positioning the non-cutting hand so far out of the way that proper cutting technique becomes impossible.

To learn the proper positioning of the fingers on your non-cutting hand, start by placing your hand, fingertips down, on a flat surface (as if you're imitating a spider). Next, push your hand forward slightly so that you begin to feel pressure on your fingernails. Your fingertips should be bent under your hand and the middle joint of each finger should be facing away from your body. Lastly, tuck your thumb in so that it slides behind your index and middle fingers. In this position, the thumb and fingertips stay out of the path of the knife blade, allowing you to anchor the food down while your knife hand applies the proper cutting motion.

The Knife Hand

Now that you know how to keep your fingers out of the way, the next step is to familiarize yourself with the proper positioning and motion of the knife hand. To begin with, you may find that placing your index finger along the top of the blade will help to keep the knife stabilized. Once you start cutting, concentrate on keeping the action of the knife moving from toe to heel and away from your body. With your other hand positioned for safety, you should begin to feel comfortable as you create a gentle rocking action with the blade and your non-cutting hand moves gradually to keep the food anchored to the cutting surface. As with any process of this kind, efficiency and safety are the first considerations. As you become more comfortable with the proper technique, speed will increase naturally as the motion becomes more fluid.

How Sharp is Too Sharp?

A simple rule of thumb- dull is dangerous. A dull blade, while not sharp enough to cut food effectively, is still sharp enough to cut you. As a knife blade dulls over time, the natural tendency is to apply more pressure as you cut. As you apply more pressure, the potential for the knife to slip and pierce your non-cutting hand increases exponentially. Sharpening your knife regularly significantly reduces this risk and ensures easier cutting action and safer operation.

Author Name Like My Writing? Hire Me to Write For You!

Related Questions