To cook you need a knife. It's as simple as that. You can "cook" raw food without a stove, possibly even manage a meal without running water, but cooking generally requires trimming, cutting, chopping, paring, slicing and dicing. The knife or knives you choose are up to you. Some prefer smaller knives, others like large knives. I've found that no matter how many knives you own, you likely will gravitate towards one or two.
What knives do you need?
If you had to limit yourself to the bare minimum, I'd say you should have a small paring knife, a large chefs knife and a serrated knife. The paring knife is ideal for trimming, peeling and small jobs in general, the chefs knife for just about everything else except slicing bread and tomatoes, which is why you need a serrated knife. After that it's really up to you. Which knives you choose, the style and size, are a completely personal decision, but I would recommend finding something you are comfortable using and that is the best quality you can afford.
Choosing a knife
I have a few ceramic knives I enjoy using, but they are very delicate and can easily break and chip. Most knives are made from steel. But there are lots of different kinds of steel. Stainless steel knives are fairly inexpensive but don't retain a sharp edge for very long. Carbon steel does stay sharp longer, but is prone to darkening and requires proper care or it will rust. High carbon stainless steel pretty much offers the best of both worlds. I have Japanese and German knives. Both are good, none are perfect, and it's nice to have a variety of each.
Chopper Chef knife review
Recently while my knives were being sharpened at Bernal Cutlery, a shop that specializes in sharpening using a Japanese whetstone, I had the pleasure of using an American made knife from New West KnifeWorks. I already have two of their steak knives and I really enjoy using them. The knife I received was their Chopper Chef Knife, which is similar to a santoku knife in shape. It's smaller than I typically prefer, but has nice heft, balance and an ergonomic handle. The cutting edge of the blade is very large. It's also gorgeous, thanks to the fusion wood handle. If you had to choose just one knife, this is a very good choice, small enough to handle paring and trimming jobs and heavy and long enough to chop your way through a large onion or even to butcher a chicken or chop meat for stew.
Thanks to New West Knife Works I am giving away a Chopper Chef Knife (retail value $119) to one lucky reader!
1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me which knife you use the most, or your favorite knife
2. The contest will end at 10 pm PST on Sunday, July 29, 2012.
3. A winner will be chosen at random and will be announced on Monday, July 30, 2012.
4. Giveaway is open to US residents or anyone with a US mailing address.
5. One comment per person, please, and you must include your email address to win (in the registration is fine, you don't need to leave it in the body of the comment).
New West Knife Works is also holding a contest of their own and giving away an entire knife block. Head over to their Facebook page to enter.
Disclaimer: I was given a knife to review by New West KnifeWorks and they are also providing the prize in this giveaway