Every cook needs a paring knife. With its short blade and sharp point, a paring knife affords angles and control that larger knives can’t provide.
This all-purpose kitchen knife, similar in shape to a small chef’s knife, is most often used with fruits and vegetables. It can carve, chop, core, de-stem, peel and slice easily. It also makes delicate cuts for garnishes.
It’s the go-to tool when you need control for delicate work like removing the ribs and seeds from chiles. Yet it can also be used to devein shrimp and even bone pieces of chicken.
The blades of paring knives typically range from two to four inches. They can be smooth or serrated.
And the tips of the knives, straight or curved, are each designed for a different situation:
Spear Point Paring Knife. The most common and versatile design (and the one most frequently found in stores), the spear point can be used to perform any kind of paring work. Every kitchen needs one.
Peeling an apple is easier with a bird’s beak paring knife. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.
Bird’s Beak Paring Knife. The bird’s beak shape makes it easier to peel round fruits, such as oranges and tomatoes. It has the best angle to remove the peel, and is easy to maneuver.
Sheep’s Foot, French Point or Flat Paring Knife. This style is ideal to slice and chop small items: garlic, ginger, herbs and onions, for example.
Serrated Edge Paring Knife. This paring knife has a smooth, straight blade and a curved point. It is used to slice larger fruits and vegetables. The blade is often longer: five inches.
If you’d like to work with the different shapes, chef Michelle Bernstein has licensed her name to a line from Fagor that includes a four-piece paring set: one of each style of paring knife. The knives have plastic handles and knife sheaths and are available in three colors: blue, lemon lime and red.
You can find them on Amazon.com.