How To Hold A Chef's Knife Properly: Expert Tips
I've figured out early that I hated cooking, or that's what I thought because of how my hands suffered after cooking. Cutting seemed too laborious for me, straining my hands and getting it sore, especially when dealing with solid vegetables like carrots and whatnot. I decided cooking was not for me until I learned how to hold a chef's knife properly. It changed how I see the kitchen – from a place of dread to an exciting nook where flavors originate.
That’s when I realized the dramatic effect of properly wielding the knife. It’s like a weapon, only that it helps you in the kitchen, not in a war. Mishandle it, and it may hurt you. Hold it skillfully and become its master. Indeed, things become a lot easier when you know how to tame the knife, and that is what I'm about to teach you.
On Why Proper Knife Handling Matters
Hand strains aren't the only risk of improper knife handling. You can also end up with a chopped finger or a bloody sink if you do not learn to wield a knife. By mastering how to hold a chef's knife properly, you are keeping those fingers safe, too! And if that's not enough to encourage you to learn the basics, I don't know what will.
But aside from keeping those fingers intact, you also get to gain more speed once you get better at handling knives. When cooking for a party, progressing at a safe pace with the knife is a skill that'll come in handy. And you can only do so if your hands feel one with the knife. Just imagine having to spend so much time cutting the ingredients, you won't make it on mealtime as a hungry crowd awaits.
Aside from those mentioned, observing how to hold a chef's knife properly also leads to better cooking. Skill with the knife produces even chunks of meats, and veggies, where uniformity is crucial to ensure a well-cooked dish.
Learning the Basics of Holding a Knife
To efficiently use a knife, you can choose between the handgrip and the blade grip technique. Let's get into it.
The Handle Grip
This knife handling technique goes by many names, like all-purpose grip, among others. So it's best to note the description so as not to get confused when you read something else.
Guessing by its name, your hand will hold the handle. Grip the handle with all your fingers tucked at the bottom, just behind the blade. Your hand should cover the bolster, the area where the handle meets with the blade, to gain a fair amount of knife control. Newbies in the kitchen will find themselves more comfortable with the handgrip technique.
Further, this method applies to all types of knives and is the more convenient way of holding it. However, performing more precise cutting can be more challenging, bringing us to the second method in this guide on how to hold a chef's knife properly.
The Blade Grip
This method is also known as the pinch grip and is commonly used by skilled chefs, unlike handle grip, where all fingers are tucked below the handle, two fingers land on the blade in this technique. Place your thumb and your index finger opposite the bolster's direction and directly over the blade. Doing so allows you to hold the knife with your two fingers resulting in better stability when cutting finer parts.
As you become skilled in handling the knife, you'll find that the blade grip provides more control and stability as you work your way chopping, chunking, dicing, and mincing your elements. However, this technique takes some time to perfect. But with constant practice, you'll be a pro in no time.
The Role of the Non-Dominant Hand
The off-hand, the one you don't use to hold the knife, isn’t just there to watch all the cutting but plays a crucial part in supporting the pieces you're cutting.
With its job, it's the one that's likely to get the cuts and faces danger. To keep your off-hand good, let it execute a ‘horse’ position. Let your non-dominant hand resemble a horse where the fingers other than the middle fingers act as the horse's leg, and the middle finger be the head, slightly elevated but with the tip bowing down.
Hold the pieces you are about to chop while the non-dominant hand assumes this position. The horse's neck or the knuckle of your middle finger should touch the side of the knife, with the rest of the fingers stabilizing the materials. Make sure to tuck your appendages to keep them safe. By doing so, you are efficiently controlling your food without risking your fingers!
Cooking can be cumbersome, or it can be easy. It all depends on the tools you use, and the techniques you employ to maneuver around the kitchen a lot easier, such as the knife. Who would've thought that learning how to hold a chef's knife properly can ease a lot of the troubles your hand can get into? By mastering knife handling methods, you will never dread cooking again.