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How to choose a good knife.

Now that the Christmas season is in full swing, many of us will be in the kitchen preparing feasts for our family celebrations. One of the essentials of food preparation is the use of a good knife.

But what are the characteristics of a good knife?

Brandon Santos, a senior sous chef with Food Solutions of Unilever, is also a certified Wusthof knife skills instructor. At a recent class at Gourdo's, he demonstrated the uses and safety features of a good kitchen knife.

'A sharp knife is a safe knife,' said Santos. With a sharp knife you don't have to use great force when cutting ingredients. It also eases the pressure off the wrist, which is important if you're cutting large amounts of meats and vegetables.

Santos also makes sure that the students he teaches have sharp knives, too.

He even sharpens their knives for them. 'I love doing it,' he said. 'For me it's a Zen moment.'

Santos passes the knife through a sharpening steel only after sharpening it on a whetstone.

'The best way to gauge if a knife is sharp is to cut a piece of bond paper. If it goes through the paper without resistance, then the knife is sharp,' he said.

Next to a sharp knife, the grip is also important. 'But that's personal,' he added. 'It depends a lot on the person using the knife.' He himself holds the knife by the bolster.

Santos still remembers fondly the first knife he bought as a chef. It was a Wusthof, and while it may have cost a lot, he considered it an investment; he still uses the knife today.

Manufactured in Solingen, Germany, Wusthof knives are made using the new precision edge technology, said Alexander Hunn, area sales manager from Germany.

The use of lasers and computers results in high initial cutting performance and long edge retention.

Moreover, said Hunn, the sharpening is done by robots, which guarantees that the knives have the same sharpness and angles.

Wusthof knives are also resistant to corrosion and are easy to sharpen, said Hunn.

Since knives are so important in food preparation, Santos advises home cooks to start their collection with three basic knives: a chef's or cook's knife, a paring knife and a boning knife.

The chef's or cook's knife is the most essential of knives in the kitchen. It can be used for slicing, mincing and dicing all kinds of food.

A good chef's knife should be perfectly balanced and should act like an extension of your hand, said Santos.

Wusthof's knives have an ergonomic handle and come with full bolster and finger guard for safety and protection.

A paring knife is good for peeling and for delicate knife works, such as mincing onions and herbs as well as for cleaning and cutting vegetables.

For filleting fish and deboning chicken and ham, a boning knife is best to use. Because it can bend slightly, its tip can go around the bones. It's also good for trimming away fat and sinews.

Here are other tips from Santos and Hunn on the proper usage of kitchen knives:

Choose the proper length of knife for the task at hand. The blade of the knife should be longer than the food you are to cut for better control of the cutting process.

Choose a knife that's secured by rivets. Wusthof's stainless steel rivets secure the handles to the tang, which makes the knife fit comfortably in the hand and ensures a safe hold during usage.

When wiping the knife, always wipe it with the blade facing away from you.

Use a scraper to transfer the ingredients from the cutting board. Never use the blade of the knife for this purpose.

If a knife is falling, do not try to catch it with your hand; if you do, you'll surely get wounded. Just stand back and let the knife fall on the floor. Then you can pick it up carefully.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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