Whether you are a novice cook or know your way around the kitchen, honing your knife skills is not only important for keeping you safe but will make your recipes that much better. Ingredients that are cut uniformly cook at the same rate and result in a dish that is cooked properly throughout. Since each piece of food is cut in the same fashion, the finished dish will have a nice presentation.
Let's start with posture, grip and guiding. Because cooks and chefs spend a lot of time on there feet, often in one position for hours on end, posture is important. Take it from a chef with terrible back and leg pain from 35 plus years in the kitchen! If you will be working at a station for a lenthy time, take the pressure off your back by elevating one leg slightly on the edge of the lower table rung. Next is grip and guiding the product. The index finger and thumb should be opposite each other on either side of the blade while the remaining three fingers are sort of loosely curled around the handle.
You should be gripping the knife mainly with the thumb and forefinger. If you find that you're tightly clutching the entire handle of the knife, just relax and loosen your hold. With practice, you'll get used to this grip, and soon any other grip will feel unnatural to you. Now that your knife hand knows what to do, you need to make sure your other hand does as well. Your non-knife hand is called your "guiding hand," and its job is to hold the food to keep it from sliding around on the cutting board. This puts that hand in a uniquely dangerous position. With the knife blade quickly moving up and down, you need to keep those fingertips tucked safely away, while still being able to firmly hold the food.
The grip shown here is called the "claw grip"—by keeping the fingers curled inward and gripping the food with the fingernails, the fingers stay out of harm's way. The side of the knife blade should rest against the first knuckle of the guiding hand, helping keep the blade perpendicular to the cutting board.
As for care of your chefs knives and tools, I've written on this previously, all the info can be found here at cheftoolscanada.biz
A short recap on sharpening as you go...
You don't need to spend hours every time you use your knife, but you should run it over the steel to correct the edge between jobs. Here's how that works;
A sharpening steel is good for two things: One, it smooths out the rough edge on a blade after you sharpen a knife on a whetstone. And two, it helps revive that edge after you've been cutting, slicing or chopping for a while.
You've probably seen people on TV whipping their knife back and forth on a knife steel at high-speed. And as you might have suspected, yes, they're just showing off. There's no reason to do it that fast, and you might cut yourself if you try.
In fact, the safest way to use a knife steel does not involve having the knife edge facing you at all.
Here's How to Do It
With your left hand (or your right hand if you're left-handed), hold the sharpening steel point-down, with its tip resting firmly on a dry cutting board — as if it were a large nail you were about to hammer into the board.
With your other hand, hold the knife crossways against the steel with the back of the blade (the part nearest the handle) touching the steel. You're going to be pulling the knife backward, toward you, so you want to start with most of the blade in front of the steel.
Tilt the knife so that its cutting edge meets the shaft of the sharpening steel at a 22½-degree angle. Don't have a protractor handy? That's OK! Remember that 90 degrees is a right angle, and 45 degrees is half of that. So 22½ degrees is just half of that. You can pretty much eyeball it. (Or see this diagram.)
Now, maintaining this 22½-degree angle, gently pull the blade toward you while simultaneously gliding it downward along the shaft of the steel. You want to cover the entire length of the blade, keeping the blade at that 22½-degree angle the whole time. Imagine you're trying to slice off a very thin piece of the knife steel. Do this step 10 times.
Switch to the other side of the blade, give it ten more strokes on the steel and you're done!
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