Today I’m going to begin a Tips and Techniques series here on my blog, starting with some comments on some basic equipment everybody who wants to cook will need.
Stocking a kitchen for the first time can be a very daunting – and expensive – experience. But let’s face it; you can’t cook with out pots pans and utensils!
I strongly recommend that you ask family and friends to help you get started stocking up on the basics. Let them know you are interested in learning to cook. Every experienced cook has too much equipment in their kitchen, and you’d be surprised what people will be willing to pass on to you. And there is no shame in getting started with recycled equipment.
The most important place to start is to be sure that, as an absolute minimum, you obtain three good knives. Just three! Don’t be fooled by those huge sets of knives that come with a “free” butcher block holders. You do not need all those knives! On the other hand, I would be lost if it wasn’t for my three good knives!
You will need one all-purpose chef’s knife with a 7-to-9 inch blade. (The blade is measured from the tip of the blade to the beginning of the handle.) You need to actually hold this knife in your hand in order to pick one that feels comfortable, and well balanced in your hand. A good chef’s knife can get very expensive, but worthwhile. Starting prices for good ones are usually about $50.
You will also need a serrated edge knife. That’s the kind with the saw tooth edge. It’s perfect for bread, cakes, and cutting tomatoes. It is not essential that this knife be top of the line, as you won’t use it as much. There is no reason that all of the knives have to be of the same brand.
One small “paring” knife with a 2-to-4 inch blade is essential for all small tasks in the kitchen. Victorinox makes a perfect one that sell for less than $5. It is incredibly sharp and for that price you can’t go wrong. Most knife shops or small kitchen shops sell these knives.
Many small knife shops sell “reconditioned” knives. These 2nd hand knives are usually available at a real bargain. This is a good way to get a knife you might otherwise not be able to afford.
Buy the best knife you can afford. It will last forever and you won’t be sorry!
Do any of the more experienced cooks out there disagree with this? Are there other kinds of knives a beginner would find useful?
Update I have submitted this post about my favourite cooking knives to the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” food blog carnival, and I’d like to offer a special welcome to readers who are joining us from the “I would be lost if it wasn’t for my ______” September edition. If you enjoy your visit here, I invite you to subscribe to The startcooking.com RSS feed or sign up to receive an email whenever there’s something new.
Note Photos in this post updated 2006.07.20
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