The Only 3 Knives You Really Need

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JohnR

The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« on: 24 Sep 2018, 01:17 pm »
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/essential-kitchen-knives_n_2545628.html

Quote
Without further ado, the only three knives your kitchen really needs:

1. An 8” Chef’s Knife

2. A Paring Knife

3. A Bread Knife

What say you? Is this good advice? Is there anyone that actually only has three knives? How many do you have?

(This same advice is all over the place, this article is just an example.)

Photon46

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #1 on: 24 Sep 2018, 01:46 pm »
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/essential-kitchen-knives_n_2545628.html

What say you? Is this good advice? Is there anyone that actually only has three knives? How many do you have?

(This same advice is all over the place, this article is just an example.)

This advice is good for those who prepare/eat the standard American diet IMO. My "go-to three" list would be; 7" Santoku, Chinese cleaver, 110-120mm petty knife (similar to a paring knife.) Those three and a 6.5-7" Nakiri cover 85% of our cooking and we're in the kitchen every day cooking. We've got three or four Santoku knives with different profiles, blade thicknesses, metallurgies. We also have a cheap little 4.5" Tosagata chopping knife that's pretty handy for things like garlic, ginger, and scallion prep.

S Clark

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Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #2 on: 24 Sep 2018, 02:43 pm »
I use a nakiri more than a chef knife.  I cook with lots of onions and peppers.  Of course, a paring knife is essential.  After that, my Santoku is pulled from the block next.  I probably use a bread knife more than my chef knife.  If I need to cut a lot of meat, then I reach for my 12" F. Dick chef knife. 
But having said that, if I had to, I could cook with a good laser 10" chef knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. 

noway

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Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #3 on: 24 Sep 2018, 02:55 pm »
I also like a utility knife with a size between the chef's and the paring. 

You may also want some duplicates in case the knife you want to use is dirty and it's faster to grab a clean one than wash the dirty one.

Johnny2Bad

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #4 on: 24 Sep 2018, 04:27 pm »
With emphasis on the "really need" criteria, I would agree completely. Where it comes into play even moreso is that you can buy three really good knives for the price of some "everything and a block" kit of marginal quality. You don't need a knife block with three knives, plus it's kid-safe to keep them in the drawer versus on the counter, and if your working knives are not part of some boutique kitchen display, things like matching sets, fancy handles, and brand name doesn't matter.

Of course that doesn't preclude you from adding others as time goes on and you see a genuine need, but to be honest I don't use more than those three (although I use a filleting knife instead of a paring knife, which I find somewhat more versatile as it can also work as a boning knife. On the other hand a good paring knife with plastic handle can be bought for $5). The bread knife is also a cake knife, or you could substitute a cake knife and use it on breads.

That just leaves a beefy fork for your thrice-yearly turkey carving and the occasional beef roast, some good kitchen shears or scissors (I use mine every single day) and a good steel to keep them sharp. The latter is not optional, and you will do much better with cheap kitchen knives and a steel than any high quality knife that rarely or never gets sharpened. If you ever get the opportunity to watch an accomplished chef working in a commercial kitchen, they don't generally have expensive knife sets at the ready (they wear them out too often for that) but the steel gets used hourly.

For a chef's knife you could use a Japanese style instead, and one with the divots along the blade make it even more versatile, as starchy foods like potoatoes won't stick, as well as some vegetables. I don't find it a huge problem, but if you're buying, may as well look for the feature. The length is somewhat cook's preference, but I think you will find that if you select the length based on your cutting surface ... shorter if you use a cutting board, longer if you have a large surface to work on ... you may find it works well on a practical basis.

Speaking of knives, the "steak knife set" is also a waste of time and money in my experience ... any steak you cannot cut with an ordinary table knife is a steak that you haven't mastered how to cook. The solution isn't buying knives.

How many do I have? Maybe 100. But I used (and needed) a knife every day in my work, and many are just collectibles. I've cooked entire meals for parties of 4 to 12 with just a Buck 112 folder, and that included butchering fresh-killed meat, fowl, or fish, but that was because I had to resort to my back-up. Just takes a bit more time and results in somewhat more ragged deep cuts.

in the kitchen, the "Big three" get used 99% of the time.

mcgsxr

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #5 on: 24 Sep 2018, 05:17 pm »
If I were to try to figure out what I actually use it would likely look like:

7 inch Chef's knife
Paring knife
Kitchen/poultry shears

I do have a block with a number of knives, some of which are used 1-2 times a year, but worth keeping at this point.

IF I were starting all over, and was shopping only for me, I would likely scale all the way back to what I listed.  But there are others that use the kitchen, and have their own preferences.

sts9fan

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #6 on: 24 Sep 2018, 05:33 pm »
Those three are really all I use.

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #7 on: 24 Sep 2018, 08:16 pm »
Chef Jean Pierre says I can have 5 or 6 knives (HE has 200). Whew.

  https://youtu.be/eLYnG81ATHw

How come nobody uses a carving knife? Just use the Chef's knife?

S Clark

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Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #8 on: 24 Sep 2018, 08:55 pm »


How come nobody uses a carving knife? Just use the Chef's knife?
Because I don't think there are many of us cutting meat away from the bone.  Most buy pre-cut meat at the grocery store.  I guess you could use one to fillet fish, but most guys that do that a lot have a fillet knife. 
Now I would think a pro would need a carving knife if breaking down large chunks. 

gregfisk

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Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #9 on: 24 Sep 2018, 10:32 pm »
I haven't read this before John, very interesting to think about.

Mostly I just use the 10" chef knife for everything from cutting up veggies to cutting up meat.

The paring knife is handy for fruit and of course IF I'm cutting bread a bread knife.

mcgsxr

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #10 on: 24 Sep 2018, 10:34 pm »
I tend to use a carving knife about 2-3 times a year.  Usually only for turkey (cooked whole), and even then when I render down a bird before a meal, only the breast meat gets "carved" the dark is usually harvested with a paring size knife.

I buy whole chickens a lot too, though I usually quarter them before BBQ - thus using the poultry shears in prep vs the carving knife after cooking.

Tyson

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #11 on: 24 Sep 2018, 11:31 pm »
I use an 8" knife, a 6" knife and a 3" knife and that covers the large majority of my needs.  The real key is getting them and keeping them very very sharp.

Early B.

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #12 on: 25 Sep 2018, 12:19 am »
I use an 8" Chef's knife 98% of the time. Wife uses a 5" or 6" knife most of the time. I have a 10" chef's knife for the occasional watermelon or cantaloupe. Yeah, most of us probably own far too many knives than we really need.   

jules

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #13 on: 25 Sep 2018, 12:29 am »
Not sure about a couple of Jean Pierre's knives. How does he keep those serrated edges sharp eh?

A narrower knife for carving chicken or legs of something on the bone certainly makes sense. At the extreme, I've got a ham knife that's 30cm long and only 2cm deep but it's virtue is that it can cut a curve through meat that is relatively firm [and on the bone].

If you're wanting to maintain a straight line cut through something like a boned out rolled roast, a deeper blade will do the job better than a narrow blade.

I've got quite a collection but most of them don't get used. I'd vote for one big one, one medium one and one small one, all of really high quality, as essential, though as Johnny2bad says, it's amazing what you can do with  pocket knife.

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #14 on: 25 Sep 2018, 05:57 am »
Knives are more involved than I thought  :o I just discovered a new (to me) type - bunka.

Here's a fun quiz: https://sharpedgeshop.com/blogs/learn/quiz-what-type-of-knife-should-i-choose

Rob Babcock

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Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #15 on: 25 Sep 2018, 07:32 am »
I do 90% of all my work with a 240mm gyuto.  A bread knife? Even in a restaurant kitchen I only use my bread knife every few months.  Paring knife?  I don't even have one.

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #16 on: 25 Sep 2018, 09:26 am »
Hi Rob, I don't use one either. I thought maybe I lacked skills but I probably just won't get one. I do want a nakiri though, never used one but there are loads on ebay, even direct from Japan. Some pretty cheap! There's a Tojiro (not DP3, lower range probably made for domestic market) for like AUD30, seems like a good way to see if I like that type of knife. (I suspect I will, a lot.)


JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #17 on: 25 Sep 2018, 09:42 am »
The real key is getting them and keeping them very very sharp.

That's one thing I have learned  :oops: Down with ceramic wheels! :uzi:

MaxCast

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #18 on: 25 Sep 2018, 12:07 pm »
I get by with a chefs knife and a paring knife most of the time.  What I lacked was a petty knife.  I really like the in between size but wanted it different so I made one.  I wanted a 6" x 1" on the thin side with a drop point to a relatively flat cutting surface and minimal belly.  A pronounced sharp point to core out tomatoes, etc.  Great for large tomatoes and onions.  No pics of the knife cause it's butt ugly.  Came home from work and saw my wife driving point down through a cantaloupe.  Broke the tip and I realized I did not anneal it after heat treat.  :x

A scissors is very useful too as is secondary knives for melons and the family to use.  Don't make bread so never needed a bread knife.

Photon46

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #19 on: 25 Sep 2018, 12:18 pm »
I get by with a chefs knife and a paring knife most of the time.  What I lacked was a petty knife.  I really like the in between size but wanted it different so I made one.  I wanted a 6" x 1" on the thin side with a drop point to a relatively flat cutting surface and minimal belly.  A pronounced sharp point to core out tomatoes, etc.  Great for large tomatoes and onions.  No pics of the knife cause it's butt ugly.  Came home from work and saw my wife driving point down through a cantaloupe.  Broke the tip and I realized I did not anneal it after heat treat.  :x

A scissors is very useful too as is secondary knives for melons and the family to use.  Don't make bread so never needed a bread knife.

Yes, I find a petty knife very useful for coring and slicing tomatoes, cutting up fruit, manually peeling fruit and tomatoes, etc. I bought this Tanaka years ago and it's a phenomenal knife for the price. It takes a razor sharp edge and holds it well. A quick stropping on a suede paddle quickly restores a like new edge. It's not stainless but it is more resistant to staining than average carbon steel.

https://www.chefknivestogo.com/tadape13.html