It’s about time we talked knives.
And which better to start with than the runt of the pack? After deveining shrimp and hulling a bunch of strawberries for Fresh Strawberry and Basil Cobbler, it only felt right to give the lil’ paring knife some love.
A paring knife is the smallest of a set, with a straight-edged blade about 3 or 4 inches long. Some are shaped just like a mini chef knife, and others, sometimes called “cook’s style,” are offset at the bottom, with a narrower blade and more even tip.
Because it’s so small, the paring knife is really easy for your hand to maneuver and find good leverage with. I kind of feel like I have this super-sharp, slicing and dicing cat claw or Edward Scissornail when I use one—it seems to follow the guidance of my index finger as if a part of it.
Paring knives are the right choice for fine, closely controlled cuts like you’d use for hulling strawberries, scoring breads or pastries, or peeling fruits or veggies. I find them to be the perfect size for slicing the seeds and veins away from small chiles like serranos and thin-slicing garlic cloves.
There are a ton of paring knives out there to choose from. They come in most knife sets and are also widely available on their own. Beware, there’s a lot of cheapies out there that will reel you in with their price tags and then quickly dull, rust, or get wobbly. Look for high-carbon steel and blades that run all the way through the handle, known as “full tang.”
This is a really nice knife for $5. These are honestly kind of pricey at 10 bucks each, but I love working with them! They’re nonstick, are carbon steel and made in a ton of colors. They also come with this little matching “safety sheath” or plastic sleeve you can slip on when you’re not using it. This superfly Japanese one will run you a pretty penny at almost $90.
When you’re going for those fine motor skill cuts, trimming or carving a masterpiece, reach for your paring knife. She’s packing a lot of power in that little package.