Nothing could be more basic or more important to your cooking than your knives. And nothing can be more confusing than separating out the truth from the hype when the time comes to add a knife to your kit. Lucky for us, Bay Area chef Samin Nosrat has put together an excellent primer that every home cook should read before setting out to purchase a knife.
Knives can be overwhelming (not to mention expensive).There are so many to choose from and so many terms to get a handle on. Stainless vs. carbon steel? Stamped vs. forged? Should I buy a Japanese knife? Do I need another paring knife?
Samin Nosrat is perfectly placed to advise home cooks on knives. She has spent several years in restaurant kitchens, including Chez Panisse, but she is also deeply committed to teaching home cooks, as evidenced by her popular Home Ec series of classes. This gives her the expertise combined with a down-to-earth understanding of what a home cook needs to get dinner on the table. She also doesn't mince her words when it comes to selecting knives, as you can see from this quote from her post Home Ec: A Guide to the Knives You (Actually) Need:
"So many of the problems that home cooks face result from a cultural tendency to conflate what is appropriate and/or necessary in a professional kitchen with what is appropriate and/or necessary in a home kitchen. That conflation, or confusion, really, is actually just a terrible story being told to us by the people who want to sell us more crap and make us think that we can't cook, and cook well, without every single doohickey they're trying to get us to buy.
However, having the proper tools on hand definitely makes things smoother, easier, and more comfortable. And frankly, you waste a lot less when you use the right, sharp knife for a task."
Check out Samin's post and while you're there, be sure to click around and discover more from this amazing and talented woman!
Read more: Home Ec: A Guide to the Knives You (Actually) Need by Samin Nosrat
(Images: Emma Christensen; Aya Brackett)