A Sharp Read
Whether you’re a novice cook or a professional, to be successful in the kitchen, you need to be able to properly use knives. Zwilling J.A. Henckles Complete Book of Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use, Techniques, & Care by Jeffery Elliot and James P. DeWan is a book that can help you (pardon the pun) hone your skills. With a little effort, the Complete Book of Knife Skills has already improved my own skills, including how to sharpen and keep my knives razor sharp.
At first, I felt skeptical about whether a hands-on skill like knife skills could be taught via a book, especially a 400-page tome like the Complete Book of Knife Skills. However, this is a book anyone can follow. It’s a visual delight, highly illustrated with easy-to-follow photographs. Each task recommends the correct knife to use and is divided into step-by-step, illustrated instructions. I especially love the fact that it has a wire ring binding covered in a tough outer cover so that it’s a snap to lay flat as you follow the instructions and photographs.
This book is amazingly thorough. It covers everything from which knives to choose and how to care for them to how to cut everything from vegetables to fish, meats, and garnishes. It instructs readers in basic skills like cutting small dice and rings to more challenging techniques like cutting flakes (wing-shaped cuts for stir-fries). It’ll tell you how to properly cut up or bone poultry, including spatchcocking, the technique used to remove the back and breastbones from fowl so it can be laid flat. It covers cleaning, scaling, and filleting different types of fish and shellfish, including oysters and squid. It teaches cutting, trimming, butterflying, Frenching, boning, and carving all kinds off meats. And it even shows you how to make fancy vegetable garnishes like citrus curls, apple swans, and delicate cucumber fans. Now any book that can teach me to cut swans out of apples is a serious winner. — BH
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills is available at bookstores, online, or from publisher Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.car.com