Chop, chop

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Knives are essential to making magic in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy the whole kit and kaboodle. Better to invest in quality over quantity and buy reputable versions of these three must-haves.

Need to look sharp? Try these knives from The Happy Cook (Barracks Road Shopping Center, 977-2665). From top, a 3.5” Wusthof IKON paring knife ($60), an 8” Wusthof IKON bread knife ($120) and an 8” Wusthof IKON chef’s knife ($150), all on a 10” RSVP magnetic knife holder ($25.10).

For cutting, chopping, slicing, and dicing, you’ll need an 8-12” chef’s knife with a heavy handle and curved blade.

For smaller, more precise jobs like peeling fruit or removing ribs from a pepper, you’ll need a 2.5-4” paring knife.

For foods hard on the outside and soft on the inside (like bread and tomatoes), you’ll need the saw-like teeth of a serrated knife.

And, rather than buying an electric sharpener which often grinds too much off a knife’s blade, shortening its life span, use a whetstone or get it professionally sharpened once or twice a year. Meanwhile, keep your knives’ edges aligned by honing them with a steel before or after every use.—Megan Headley

Getting dicey

For chef-worthy diced onions with a minimum of tears, there are three main guidelines: Use a sharp knife at least 7” long, make the minimum required number of cuts and don’t trim off the onion’s root—the hard circle at the root end—until after your onion is diced. Here’s how the pros do it:

1. Slice off just enough of the top of the onion to expose the flesh underneath and peel it, removing one or more layers until the whole onion is pearly white. Next, stand the onion on its cut end and cut the onion in half by slicing through the middle of the root end. While you will eventually discard the homely little thing, it will keep your onion half together as you slice it.

2. First, the trickiest bit: Setting one half aside, lay the other half flat against the cutting board. Secure the onion with an outstretched palm, fingers pointing slightly upward for safety. Working from the bottom up, make three horizontal cuts from the tip of the onion toward the root end, stopping about 1/4” from the end.

3. Next, rotate the onion 1/4 turn so that the root end is pointing away from your body. Position the tip of your knife on the surface of the onion about 1/4” from the root and, working from right to left, make three or four downward cuts.

4. Rotating the onion 1/4 turn once more, make three or four downward cuts perpendicular to the previous ones. Voila! Perfectly diced cuts should fall away from your knife as you cut.—Meredith Barnes

Japan vs. America

When it comes to sharp objects, what’s the difference between knives made in the eastern and western worlds?

 

Most notably, their shape. A knife made in Japan will have a bevel (an edge not perpendicular to the knife) on only one side, rendering it extremely sharp, whereas a knife from America has a bevel on each side. This feature allows for cutting without the necessity of steering.

American knives are made from stainless steel. While this material doesn’t rust, it requires frequent sharpening.
 

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