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Module 6: Basic Techniques & Modern Conveniences Introduction

The knife is widely used in both Western and Asian cooking and mastering this tool will let you properly execute dishes. Here are some essential knives and what they’re best used for.

Basic knives and their uses

Chef’s knife – The most versatile of all knives as the shape of the knife allows for different uses. It is used for mincing, slicing and chopping.

Boning knife – Equipped with a sharp point and narrow blade for removing bones in poultry, meat and fish. It comes in 2 varieties: stiff (for beef and pork) and flexible (for poultry and fish).

Bread knife – A serrated knife used for cutting bread and other foods with hard/soft composition.

Cleaver – A large heavy knife to chop through bones and joints. The Chinese cleaver or Chinese chef knife is a general-purpose cleaver and is thinner. It is used for slicing, chopping and mincing.

Sharpening steel – Used for maintaining knife blades.

How to hold a knife

When working with a chef’s knife, it’s important to hold it right:

  1. Hold the chef knife by gripping the handle, then have the thumb and index finger hold the top of the blade on separate sides.
  2. Secure food with the other hand, with fingertips tucked in safely. The blade should rest on the knuckle. This is known as the claw grip.

How to use a knife – dicing onions

  1. Slice the top of the onion
  2. Slice the onion in half vertically
  3. Lie onion and make vertical incisions to the root
  4. Make horizontal cut to the root
  5. Dice

How to use a knife – filleting fish

  1. Scale the fish using a scaler from head to tail.
  2. Gut by inserting knife into the vent, slicing away from the gut towards the head.
  3. Remove the guts from the base of the head where everything is connected.
  4. Cut behind the head. Angle the knife and slice to the bone and follow behind the fins.
  5. Peel the fillet back and sever the fish bones.

Knife safety

  • Cut away from your body
  • Do not attempt to catch a falling knife
  • Do not run with a knife
  • Hand over the knife handle-first
  • Keep knives sheathed when storing or carrying
  • Keep knives sharp
  • Do not use a knife for prying open objects
  • Do not use a knife on live electrical items
  • Seek first aid when cut by a knife

Congratulations, you’ve completed the Knife Skills topic!

Continue on to the next topic, pick a related topic from the Basic Techniques & Modern Conveniences module, or go back to the Chefmanship Academy modules page.

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