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What's wrong (if anything) with this picture?

I would not use such a big knife for that small vegetable, and I hold knives by the handle, not the blade-- ever --
am I doing it all wrong?

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

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  1. Nothing. That is a pinch grip. The thumb and forefinger pinching the blade and the others wrapped around the handle and that is what many folks do when wielding a chef knife.

    I use an 8" or 10" chef on darn near everything.

    Jim

    1. Yep that's the way to do it, the picture that is, and that's a tiny knife!!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dave5440

        Yup the pinch grip is what I use and also use a 240 gyuto for most vegetable prep

      2. Hi blue room,

        The knife is actually small. It is only 6". The standard is 8", and many people prefer a 10" knife. I do use big knife even for small vegetables like ginger, garlic, green onion...etc. As for the way this person holds the knife. It is considered the most proper technique in Western cutlery skill. It is called the pinch grip.

        Here is video from the famous Chard Ward:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq0FH2...

        The only thing I see as possibly wrong in the picture is that the cutting board is too small.

        12 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Good pick up on the cutting board! I agree, I like a larger knife (usually a 8 inch) for small things - gives nice control and stability since the tip is always down. A small cutting board is the fastest way to lose some of that control.

          As for the pinch grip, I can do it, but I tend to fall back to the handle grip.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            "too small" was my first thought too! on both the knife and the cutting board.
            Being raised in a Chinese family, I only know how to use meat cleavers to cut anything.

            1. re: kerosundae

              "Being raised in a Chinese family, I only know how to use meat cleavers to cut anything."

              :) My guess is that your family used the the all purpose "vegetable cleavers" to cut anything, not the "meat cleavers"

              Recently, I took two photos of cleavers to illustrate something for another post. You can see the difference between the blade thickness and edge grind for these knives:

              http://www.chow.com/photos/690413

              http://www.chow.com/photos/690420

              I can also use a Chinese vegetable cleaver to cut pretty much anything. For anything which I cut against a surface (cutting board), I use a large all-purpose knife which can be a Gyuto, Santoku, or Chinese cleaver...etc For most things which I cut between my hands, I use a paring knife, like peeling fruits...

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I found another problem with the link picture. It has a link which pointed me to this.... this is just wrong on many levels:

              http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

              :D

                1. re: jpc8015

                  Me neither. What is wrong with this, Chemical?

                  1. re: escondido123

                    Sorry jpc9015 and escondido123

                    It is just me. I don't think it is wrong-wrong, but I do find two things which are strange, weird...etc.

                    First, the knife is expensive for its quality and size. US $40! :)

                    Second, I could be wrong, but isn't a serrated knife more dangerous than a straight edge knife? A straight edge knife makes a clean cut which is easier to heal. A serrated knife tears up the skin and muscule, so it is more damaging to the person and more difficult to heal.

                    This is also why a surgery scalpel is straight edge:

                    http://www.medical-supplies-equipment...

                    Not to mention that a serrated kitchen knife is more diffiuclt to clean and therefore possibly increasing the chance of infection (maybe?).

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Yep that "serrated is safer" claim is a puzzling.

                      Jim

                      1. re: knifesavers

                        You're probably less likely to cut yourself with a serrated edge. It grips into food and doesn't slip easily. And you're also less likely to get a cut from incidentally bumping the blade while it's resting on the cutting board. But as Chem pointed out, when you do cut yourself, the wound will be more jagged, slower to heal.

                        In a way, it's kind of like that advice that a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. You're more likely to nick yourself with a sharp knife. But you're more likely to get a big ugly jagged wound from a dull one.

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I agree. Once again it's a picture to show off the knife.

                  The only positive I can see is the rounded front that could reduce impaling oneself.

                  Knife technique and safety don't change for children and adults and sadly the picture doesn't demonstrate either. Evidently there needs to be a third adult to make sure the other adult is properly supervising the child.

                  Better off starting with a non-serrated dinner knife and cutting bananas to learn proper technique and the relationship between the knife and the two hands.

                  W-S gets another demerit for claiming a serrated knife is safer.

                  1. re: SanityRemoved

                    "Evidently there needs to be a third adult to make sure the other adult is properly supervising the child."

                    :D True and funny.

                    Depsite the fact that I like a high performance knife, I would love nothing more than to use a safe knife. If I really think a serrated knife is safer, then I would definitely start to replace my current straight edge knives with serrated knives, but I don't believe it.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      One safety problem with some serrated, or perhaps scalloped, knives is that they tend to turn sideways as they cut, inevitably toward the hand holding the work.

              1. I agree it's a pinch grip but in my mind overly exaggerated. Regardless of the knife size, I don't think it demonstrates good technique. The Chad Ward video shows good technique.

                It basically comes down to marketing and photographers wanting a nice shot.

                Here is what I believe occurred: The person using the knife knows the proper technique but then was asked to tilt the knife allowing for a better view of the logo and was asked to choke up on the knife to reveal all three bolsters.

                1. Yeah thats how I hold my knives always except paring knife and I'd definitely have a larger knife.

                  1. Hi Blue room,

                    It's certainly not wrong to hold a knife by the handle. You will get more control using the pictured pinch grip but if that's not comfortable for you, that's ok. You may wish to give it a shot, with a small chefs knife or small santoku.

                    The cutting board ... is WAY small. That 6" knife is only slightly smaller than the majority of primary knives that I use - and I'm 2 meters tall and have large hands. I just find that, for most food prep, that a 6.5 - 7" knife is perfect. The longer knives that I like are slicers, not chef's or santoku styles.

                    My girlfriend is like you - she likes holding a knife by the handle and actually uses my paring knife or a steak knife for the little food prep that she does (I do most of the cooking). I asked her about it, and she finds most of my primary knives as pretty intimidating and then we compared our hands (she's only 5'2" ... ah - I got it. So I bought here a MAC Mini-Santoku ... the blade is only 4.5" long and so is very comfortable for her. You may wish to consider a mini chefs knife or mini santoku for yourself.

                    1. I use a chef's knife for almost everything while my husband generally uses a smaller, narrower knife. Can't say I use that grip but the knife is the size I use for garlic and shallots--which is what is being sliced I think.

                      1. Do you cut shallots (and garlic, maybe) with a paring knife? I do sometimes when I want a particularly even, and very tiny dice. It just works better in my hands, doing it that way.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Jay F

                          I use my cleaver! I have a chinese style cleaver that can make a wonderfully fine dice of garlic and shallots.

                          1. re: mateo21

                            That is because you have an expensive Tanaka Chinese cleaver. :P

                            (Just kidding).

                            1. re: Jay F

                              I can't do a small dice or mince with a paring knife because there is not usually enough offset between the handle and the blade...my knuckles prevents me from getting the blade all the way through to the board.

                              1. re: jzerocsk

                                I'm going to have to look at how I do this, and why it's easy for me. I don't think I have particularly small hands. Have to see.

                                1. re: Jay F

                                  Probably you use drawing cuts - pulling back as you cut so only the tip of the knife contacts the board. Either that or you put the food on the edge of the cutting board and cut with your hand and the handle away from the edge.

                                  For someone learning to use a knife well, it's more efficient to learn to use a chefs knife (or an Asian substitute) for the majority of non-specialized prep work. But that doesn't necessarily override decades of experience and practice. Jacques Pepin, for example, uses his paring knife and utility knife for a lot of things, and he has excellent knife skills.

                                  Tricky thing is people shouldn't necessarily use that as a justification for doing things the way they've always done it. In other words, be honest with yourself (not directed at you specifically, Jay). Most people who rely on a paring knife or utility knife for a lot of basic prep aren't anywhere near as skilled with these knives as Pepin, and would be better off working on their technique with a chefs knife.

                            2. I would never use my chef's knife for mushrooms, or for any vegetables for that matter. I use it for meat only. It's razor sharp, so I leave it out no longer than necessary. I always wash it and store it immediately after use for safety.

                              For mushrooms, I use a 4" knife. It may be proper technique for a professional cook, but different considerations apply in professional vs. home kitchens. When I worked in a restaurant doing prep many years ago, I used a large cook's knife for vegetables which I wouldn't even own today.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: GH1618

                                Oh, right you are, escondido123. Shallots.

                                1. re: GH1618

                                  You don't use your chef's knife for vegetables? Another one for the "Oh, how peculiar" list.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    Japanese vegetable knives are better for vegetables, in my opinion. It's just a matter of personal preference.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        No, it's deeper — really a light cleaver. It might actually be Chinese. It has no markings and I bought it so long ago I don't remember. I think it's Japanese because it doesn't have the crude appearance of most inexpensive Chinese knives.

                                        I also have a Chinese vegetable knife which is similar to a Nakiri, but it has the worst blade I've ever seen on a knife — easily nicked, so I don't use it much anymore. Those fine Japanese knives are nice, but ultimately it's about the food, not the tools. You don't really need an expensive knife to cut vegetables, in my opinion.

                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          GH

                                          It could be a Japanese made Chinese cleavers. There are decent Chinese cleavers. If a person pays $10, then he cannot expect much. CCK come to mind for well made Chinese knives.

                                          It really comes down to what the person considers to be more important and where the focus should be placed. If you are a sushi chef, then you may consider a good yanagiba is very important. On the other hand, if you are a Buddhist cuisine chef's, than a vegetable knife is important:

                                          http://www.choshuen.co.jp/ryouri/02sh...

                                          If the goal is to cut vegetable into chunks or bits and toss them together to make salad, then a very sharp Japanese vegetable knife is overkilled. It won't, however, for Katsuramuki‎

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            Granted, Japanese cuisine is an art form worthy of the finest knives. At home I make celery soup (for example). When I want my dinner to be high art, I go out to a sushi bar.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              Right. I am not disagreeing with your priority. I am saying that the focus and emphasis is what drive the importance of the knives. When you wrote "I use it for meat only. It's razor sharp, so I leave it out no longer than necessary" and "You don't really need an expensive knife to cut vegetables", I took it that what you mean is that meat cutting knives are more important than vegetable cutting knives.

                                              So what I wrote is that if you are sushi chef, then of course a high grade yanagiba (fish slicing knife) is more important than a high grade usuba (vegetable slicing knife). However, if your focus is the other way around, then a vegetable knife may be more important than a meat knife.

                                              As your example of celery soup and my example of salad, a high grade vegetable knife is unnecessary in these cases because we are not requiring high level precision for those applications: "...toss them together to make salad, then a very sharp Japanese vegetable knife is overkilled..." Now, Katsuramuki‎ is another story. Bottomline: if precision cutting is needed for vegetables, then a good vegetable knife is desirable, if precision cutting is needed for meat, then a good meat knife is desirable.

                                              Now, as Charles Phan shown in this video at 1:03 minute. If the goal is to make minced/ground meat, than an inexpensive Chinese chef's knife is better. So it is all about applications.

                                              http://www.chow.com/videos#!/show/all...

                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                I would also add the pleasure of using a nice knife. As I mentioned earlier, my go-to knife is a chinese style cleaver (made in Japan). It is an expensive knife by most people's standards -- but it is a joy to use. Sure, I'm not making art, but mincing a few cloves of garlic with that knife always puts a smile on my face!

                                                1. re: mateo21

                                                  "but mincing a few cloves of garlic with that knife always puts a smile on my face!"

                                                  Putting smile on your face -- priceless (some credit card ads).

                                                  Someday I will ask you why you like that particular Chinese knife.

                                  2. I might not go so far as to say you're "doing it all wrong," especially without knowing what you are actually doing, but you should definitely do some reading/watching of videos and at least give this pinch-grip technique a whirl. The large knife for a small object seems counter intuitive but with the pinch-grip and good use of the "bear claw" for your non-knife hand the larger knife ends up being easier to manage.

                                    1. For heaven's sake -- I've always handled things that have handles by the handle --
                                      seemed safest / most logical / no brainer.
                                      Also used smallest knife for smallest items --
                                      Obviously have lots to learn! I just now tried the "pinch grip" wow it feels funny
                                      but yes, it increases control. Thanks everyone, enjoy your T weekend.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: blue room

                                        It will feel funny. I certainly did when I first adopted the pinch grip. Give yourself a week or two to adjust and see if you like it better. It certainly took me a few (3-4?)cooking sessions to get used to it, but once I get used to it, then I much prefer the pinch grip for most (not all) tasks.

                                        As for using a small knife for small items, I think that really depends. If you are cutting between two hands like peeling an apple or deveining a shrimp, then sure. However, if we are cutting against a cutting board, then the logic is not quiet simple. How "fine" and how "precise" you can make a cut has to do with the blade thickness much more than the size of the blade. Let takes an example, a longer, wider but thin blade knife will still give you much better control than a smaller, shorter but thicker knife. Now, I am not saying bigger is always better. However, the 6" Che'f knife you have shown above is not really that big for those small tasks.

                                        In short, I pick my thinnest knife for slicing garlic and ginger ...etc, which is one of my bigger knives.

                                        Enjoy the T day

                                        1. re: blue room

                                          Professional cooks tend to use one knife for almost everything, so the pinch grip compensates. It's easier than switching knives in a commercial kitchen, where you don't have time to fool around.

                                          Commercial kitchens do not have a lot of special tools. My recollection from working in one decades ago is that the chef mostly used only two knives, his chef's knife and a butcher knife for separating chicken. When I did prep, I think I used only a 12" cook's knife for everything. I wouldn't have such a long knife at home. It's too crowded in my small kitchen.

                                          1. re: blue room

                                            I use a paring knife for just that paring an apple etc. I will sometimes use it for dicing garlic or shallot if that is all that's handy, but I prefer the chef's knife if I'm cutting more than one item since it works as well for a clove of garlic as for a head of cabbage--at least for me. The other knife I use regularly is a thin boning knife for some protein prep.

                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              The advantage of my inexpensive light cleaver for garlic is that I can just whack a clove with the flat side of the knife to peel it. I would never do that with my chef's knife.

                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                Why not? I do it all the time and both the chef's knives are doing just fine. I know chefs don't put down their knife--pick up an inexpensive cleaver to whack their garlic--and then go back to their chef's knife, so why should I?

                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                  Interesting, Escondido, as I would never do that with my (admittedly non-inexpensive) cleaver or chef's knife (gyuto)! That's what a bench scraper is for.

                                                  1. re: mateo21

                                                    To GH1618, escondido123, and mateo,

                                                    As a person who smashes garlic with my knives, I do so disregarding the price of my knives. What I do differently depends on the mass of the knives. For a medium blade Chinese cleaver like Dexter-Russell S5198 (slightly on the medium heavy side), I can simply whack the garlic and ginger with the momentum of the cleaver, as illustrated by Martin Yan at 2:35 min mark at this video:

                                                    http://youtu.be/KRrsifp2FpA

                                                    On the other hand, I find difficulty to do the same for a light blade Chinese slicing cleaver. For a light blade cleaver, I put the blade on the garlic and ginger, and then I smash the blade with my hand as shown in the following video at 0:10 minute:

                                                    http://youtu.be/gvBjK9Q5Sg4

                                                    This is the same for my gyuto, my nakiri, or any of my other knives.

                                                    I use my knives to scarp my chopped up foods (including crushed garlic and ginger) because it nicely work with my style. I do not find scraping the foods significantly increase my frequency to sharpen my knives.

                                          2. I use the pinch grip so nothing wrong there.
                                            Cutting board looks adequate to me.
                                            What I don't like is the angle of cutting. I know it is a photo done to show the brand name on the blade, but when I'm cutting, I don't angle the blade inwards towards my food-holding hand. That's the thing about this photo that actually scares me. I try to be more vertical or angled away from my holding hand. But I fully get that this is a food art photo showing the Zwilling stamp on the blade....
                                            :)

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: freia

                                              The odd angle caught my eye too. I use my 8 inch chef's for everything. I have a pairing knife, but don't really use it for anything. Usually for smaller items, I go with the pinch grip and a more traditional grip for other cutting.

                                              http://burghfeeding.blogspot.com/

                                            2. I use a 10" knife for almost everything. I don't have good knife form--I am an autodidact when it comes to cutting skills. But I do hold the knife forward on the blade similarly. If you own an 8 or 10 incher, you can practice chopping onion or celery till you get the hang of it. My large chef's knife is my most depended upon kitchen tool.

                                              1. It looks a little weird because they have the knife angled away from the food and they also have all the action happening in a corner of the cutting board. We can assume that both of these things are happening so they can get a nice catalog photo that shows off the writing on the knife blade.