A paring knife doesn’t spring to mind as the most useful kitchen knife, and to be perfectly honest, it probably doesn’t get as much use as a mainstay like the classic 8-inch chef’s knife. However, given a choice, I would personally prefer to have a high-quality paring knife and a merely decent chef’s knife, rather than the other way around. The reason? A paring knife usually fills a niche that most other knives don’t. If you cook at all, you probably have at least three knives: a French-style chef’s knife, a 6 inch utility, and 2 inch paring knife. Because of their size, the chef’s and the utility serve a lot of the same functions, like slicing meet or dicing vegetables. What they don’t do, however, is intricate work. Ever try to devein a shrimp with a chef’s knife? How about peel a potato? You wouldn’t (I hope), because you would probably end up skewering yourself or butchering the food.
|It's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean|
Here’s what to look for:
Blade style: Get a spearpoint. This classic style works in almost any situation, while less-common blade profiles like a sheep’s-foot generally do one thing well, and everything else mediocre. Serrated is dumb.
|Top: Spearpoint |
Bottom: Crazy moon knife
Blade steel: A good steel is important in any knife, but it is doubly true for a paring knife. Given the tight space and intricate work you are going to be doing with the paring knife, a dull blade that will catch or slide on the food you’re working with can easily end up with a trip to the emergency room. 440C or above, no exceptions.
Guard: The guard is the point just between the edge and the handle, and protects your hand from running under the blade. This is somewhat counter-intuitive, but a thinner guard works better in a paring knife, as you can fully take advantage of the limited cutting area- as long as the guard extends past your finder and you pay attention, you should be safe enough.
|Living on the edge with no guard|
Get: Any of the brands I mentioned in this post will work great, but I would lean toward the mid-range or higher.