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What would you choose in a "one knife challenge?" [moved from Home Cooking]

If you could only have one knife in your kitchen, which one would you choose, and why?

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  1. ten inch chef knife - multipurpose - preferably the korin ubx-10 (one could always dream!)

    1 Reply
    1. Six inch chef's knife.

      1. Why do I ask? Just curious. My answer, although boring, would be a forged 8" chef's, followed by a stamped 10 1/4" Forschner bread slicer. Followed by a stamped 8" cimetar.

        1. Big ole santoku. Altho that could just be because my Santoku is also my nicest knife.

          1. 7 or 8" Chef's knife with a full tang and bolster for easy handling.

            1. 8" Shun Ken Onion chef. I kiss it on the lips.

              1. Global G2 chef's knife and then my $8.00 "Tong Ma" clever .

                    1. re: paulj

                      Isn't a large paring knife is the same as an utility knife? I thought people hate that thing.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Hate a good utility knife? I think my Shun 6" Utility is a great all-around knife. It's a much better design than the cheap, stamped-style utility knives most people are used to using. But I think the key point here is that it's a well-designed knife (actually a petit gyuto) made from quality materials, rather than a marketing addition to fill out a brand's set in a wood block.

                        1. re: Eiron

                          Yo Greg,

                          Many people dislike an utility knife due to the design not the material. The argument goes this way: A paring knife is small and nimble. You hold it on your dominant hand and hold the food on the other hand. A paring knife is used to cut the food between two hands and not against a cutting board. For peeling, only 1-2 inch of the blade (near the knife heel) is truly used. For detail work, it is the tip being used. You know Chef's knives, so I won't bore you.

                          The problem with most utility knives is that they are neither. It is longer than a paring knife, but thinner and shorter than a Chef's knife. The extra length of an utility knife offer no advantage for peeling/cutting in mid air. So a 5" utility knife just get in the way for peeling. On the other hand, an utility knife is too short and narrow to be used as a Chef's knife. It is too short for many large item foods and most importantly, it does not have the knuckle clearance to be used on a cutting board. People cannot bring the knife blade all the way down without hitting their knuckles.

                          Shun utility knife may be better because it seems to have better knuckle clearance, but if you look at a typical Henckels or Wusthof utility knife, it is very difficult to use them on a board. Either you decide not to bring the full knife edge all to the board (in that case, it is the same as a paring knife) or you will hit your knuckles everytime:



                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            The sandwich knife in this Kuhn Rikon set
                            is surprisingly useful. It has enough length to cut sandwiches and rolls. and enough width to serve as a spreader. The way around the knuckle clearance issue is to hold the blade at an angle, with just the tip in contact with the board, and slice through the item (like an onion), rather than chop or rock.

                            1. re: paulj


                              That is the point. To use an utility knife on a board, one would have to hold the blade at an angle to provide knuckle clearance, which also means only the first 2 inch (knife tip) is truly being used. As such, a shorter paring knife can also do as well.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Whether that matters depends a lot on what I am cutting and how much. In practice I tend to use a small knife for big knife tasks more often than the other way. If, for example, I start off with a paring task, it may be quicker, or simpler, to continue to use the paring knife for the chopping phase, than to switch to the bigger knife. Especially when working with small quantities (e.g. dicing a shallot v a large onion).

                                1. re: paulj

                                  I agree. I don't like to switch knife. Then, I have to wash my hand, then my knife, then dry the knife... Although fairly quick, it interrupts the normal flow of food prep.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Chem, I agree, it's usually a design problem. I mention the materials simply 'cuz most folks would never spend this much for a typical stamped/riveted utility knife. Better design is only part of the reason for the knife's high cost; better materials (& perfect warranty) accounts for the rest of it.

                              The petit gyuto ("petty") design of the Shun makes it far more useful than any other knife I've used in this size range. I've discovered it excels in every slicing task I've given it. I'd never go back to using a "regular" utility knife again.

                              1. re: Eiron


                                I have to say that Shun does provide a nice product support program. Not only it offers a good warranty, but it also provide lifetime knife sharpening service for people who don't like to sharpen their knives. It is especially attractive if you own several Shun knives: shipping a dozen of Shun knives is not much more expensive than shipping one knife. If I own 12 Shun knives (which I don't) and I ship them out for factory sharpening every year, then it is like $80-$150 worth of free service every year.

                      2. re: bushwickgirl

                        Hmm, apparently, Rachel Ray is not as influential as I thought. Otherwise, there would have been more Santuko users here.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          If I had to make a choice among larger blades, I'd choose a Santuko shape (no influence from RR on that). In fact as a compromise between large and small, I'd lean toward a 5" Santuko. That's what I keep in my camping gear, tough it isn't the only knife. But when camping I don't do a lot of chopping and butchering.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Well, RR's certainly not the reason I like them over a chef's.

                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                              Well, it is interesting that after I wrote about Rachel Ray, then all of a sudden, there are numerous new entries about Santoku.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I really don't think RR influences people's knife choices very much.;=)

                                Interesting thread; I've seen kitchen people (cooks) use paring knives for everything and chef's knives for things only a paring knife should be good for, to say nothing of how and for what slicers are used!
                                I think it's a case of to each his/her own. Whatever you're comfortable with and what gets the job done.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl


                                  Actually that Rachel Ray thing is a tongue-in-cheek. :)

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Mm, thought so. Your wacky sense of humor at work...
                                    I need a new boning knife, what's your recommend, money is somewhat of an issue, so I'm thinking $30 range. Japanese is obviously out, I guess.

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      Hi Bushwick

                                      I have a Dexter Russell boning knife of the Traditional (wood handle) series. This is the one:
                                      Generally, I like wood handle, but I have to say maybe I should have gotten one with a larger knife guard (to prevent potential injury) and a plastic handle. Because boning food is always messy (for me), a plastic handle would be easier to clean and be sanitary.

                                      So I think these two may be better:


                                      Katom offers very low prices for Dexter Russell, but it takes about 2-3 weeks before you can get the items.

                                      Alternatively, I think this one looks really good. Paulfinest suggested to me. This is a Wusthof Butcher series boning knife.


                                      If you live in Canada, then you can buy it from Paulfinest. If not, here (I think amazon has the name wrong):


                                      You will have a nonslip sanitary handle with a large knife guard like the Dexter Russell knives. This Wusthof knife is made with a slightly better steel than Dexter Russell and Wusthof knives always have a more polished finish. It is also free shipping from Amazon, but it is currently out of stock.

                                      By the way, all of these are 6" stiff, but both companies offer 5" version and flexible (fillet) versions.

                                      So what boning knife do you have right now? or previously?

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Thanks for all the info, I knew I could count on your recommendation expertise.
                                        I have a Wusthof 6" and it's just worn out; I've had it for 25+ years.
                                        Time for something new.
                                        I like the 6" Wusthof boner from amazon, it's similar to what I have and the price is right. I can wait on it, don't do much boning these days but it's good to be prepared for it. I may get a Wusthof 9" fish fillet knife while I'm at it. Then, no more knives. By the time my current collection is worn out, I'll be dead and buried.
                                        Thanks again. Happy Spring to you.

                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                          Expertise no, recommendation yes. :)

                                          Yeah, I think I will buy that Wusthof boning knife when I give my current one away. The price is right and the quality is good. Although it is out-of-stock on Amazon, one can order for it now and Amazon will ship it to you when it is ready.

                                          Yeah, I can feel the Spring now. It is the first real warm day here. Happy spring to you as well.

                        2. A 6" paring/utility non-serrated knife. You can slice, chop, and mince with it, though that would often be a pain, but you really can't pare with a 10" chef's knife.

                          It's an idle question, though, and nobody would live by the answers they give here, or needs to.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: armagnac

                            Okay, now I have major knife envy! I was going to say my 8" Wusthof Ikon cook's knife. But I also lust after the huge fish trimming/scaling and leg-of-lamb de-boning knives at my neighborhood market.

                            1. re: armagnac

                              When I were in school, yeah, I really live by a "one knife" rule and I were in school for a long long time.

                              1. re: armagnac

                                then you must've never seen this!

                                forget the daikon test, this is masterful knife work that i could only ever dream of aspiring to.

                                now the coring part would be the bigger pain in the ass but i would still stick with my 8" chef's knife.

                                1. re: armagnac

                                  Actually, you can. Over the years I have found my 10" Thiers-Issard doing more and more paring tasks, peeling cukes, coring tomatoes, etc. It is so light and has a narrow enough blade that it does those things remarkably well. So unless it is hypertechnical job, like fluting a mushroom cap, I will more often than not just use the same knife for everything. The one job the 10" chef's knife will not do well is boning.

                                  1. re: zfalcon

                                    I wish I knew what to do with my chinese style cleaver. It is woefully underused.

                                    1. re: tcamp

                                      Well, here are some ideas to get you going:

                                      Google "how to use a Chinese cleaver" for more info. Happy chopping.

                                      1. re: tcamp


                                        Here is another youtube video. Push-cutting is the most common cut with a Chinese chef's knife, Nakiri, Santoku.... It is demonstrated as the first cutting style in the video. Although Chinese style chef's knife look alike, they can have varies thickness which lead them to different usage. Here are some Chinese chef's knives from CCK.


                                        The very thin ones (e.g. KF1101) are specialized for slicing and cutting. The thick ones, (e.g. KF1601) are for chopping through small and medium bone. The medium ones (KF1201) are most versatile but are do not excel at a particular job.

                                        Best wishes.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          So you need a variety of cleavers! At the very least a thin and a thick. These cleavers could make many other knives, with the exception of possibly paring, slicing and definitely boning, obsolete.

                                          1. re: bushwickgirl


                                            :) Most Chinese households simply have medium blade ones. Medium ones should handle most jobs. Apparently, people at the knifeforums like the thin blade ones. I guess because the thin blade ones preform really well as vegetable slicers. The thick blade ones are pretty much the same as a western meat cleaver, so they are as useful/useless depending the cooks.

                                            The Chinese cleavers and Japanese Nakiri are very similar to each other, and Santoku is has its root in Nakiri. These knives all compete with each others and with the French's Chef knife. They are not a threat to the paring and boning knives.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              The cleaver I had was a medium one but heavy enough for smaller bones, pork ribs, chicken, etc. I did find it a bit clumsy (or maybe I was me and my technique) for vegetables but perhaps I needed more practice.
                                              I wasn't great with push-cutting when I was younger, having used only chef's, but I find I use that technique comfortably with my santoku now.

                                    2. A Chinese chef knife aka Chinese cleaver. Next a Santoku or a Gyuto?

                                      1. Nenox S1 270mm Gyuto, it can do most anything.

                                        1. you can accomplish most cooking tasks with an 8-inch chef's knife if it's sharp. the pointy tip can act like a paring knife, you can use it to slice in a pinch, and you can chop up just about anything.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: chuckl

                                            For delicate work I'd rather have the cutting edge a couple of inches from my hand than 8.

                                            Paring a water chestnut is a good test.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              For delicate work with a chef's knife, you can just hold the blade an inch or two from the tip.

                                              1. re: tanuki soup

                                                it can be done, I've used a chef's for paring. It seems to me that this post started out being about which knife is the most versatile as opposed to which knife do you love. There's a difference. A lot of people are professing love for santokus, which is fine. I have several. But the shape of the knife would preclude any sort of paring type of cutting, whereas the spear point of a chef's is a lot like a paring knife. Like Tanuki says, you just have to hold it differently. It's fine to express your knife love, but that's not what this post was about.

                                                1. re: chuckl

                                                  Since there is sheep foot paring knife, I won't say the shape of a Santoku excludes it from paring function.

                                          2. I would have to say my chinese cleaver. Before that it would have been my "short" chef also known as my big 'paring" and probably by most as a utility knife.

                                            1. I'd choose my Glestain 7-inch santoku with the big scallops on the side. It's the knife I reach for most often.

                                              1. Mac Santoku or 8" Shun chef's...love 'em both.

                                                1. My 9" Wusthof Grand Prix (original) Chef's knife.

                                                  1. Hmmm, that's a hard one. Toss up between my Shun 7 inch Santoku or my 8 inch Mighty Mac Chef. Hate to give up either one of them.

                                                    1. 7" Santuko followed closely by paring knife.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                        I would pick a Mr Itou Gyuto 270mm chef knife....why?..cuz i have and there's nothing you can do about it...lol.