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What Is a Paring Knife?

Learn about paring knives in this Howcast video with expert Dan Delavan.


Hi, my name's Dan Delavan. I'm the owner/operator of Plaza Cutlery in Costa Mesa, California. We have a great selection. We also have a website, And today, we're going to be talking about knives.

The paring knife is a small general-use knife. Usually, it's your catch-all knife for opening packages, for trimming anything. If you have a piece of meat and there's a piece of fat on it or something you have to get off and you don't want to grab the bigger knife, chances are the paring knife will be the knife that's already out on the counter. So you're going to grab that and use it. So it does a little bit of everything.

The standard paring knife is usually going to have a three-inch to a four-inch blade. And this is about a three and a half, so it's kind of right in the middle. This is a Wusthof Ikon, standard knife, very slight curve. And if you notice the profile in all the knives, profile is very similar, just a slight curve up. Forge guard, larger handle, again ergonomic but full tang. Ikon has got a steel butt, which you can use for smashing garlic and but it grips right in the hand. Some people will use a paring knife in this manner in order to trim. So it's whatever way that you use it, but paring knife, usually about three to four inches.

A lot of people just like something real basic, Victorinox again, puts out some really basic knives. They're not very expensive. They're only, you know, from $5 to $10, but it's a fibrox handle. This particular one is a serrated edge. It does come in a plain edge and it comes a little bit bigger, which is a nice simple paring knife. This particular one is very popular because the handle is comfortable, and also being serrated, you don't have to sharpen it. It'll stay sharp for a long time, and eventually, when it does become dull, in most cases you're just going to replace it because it's not that much money anyway.

Okay, now for a couple of specialty paring knives. This is called a Bird's Beak. Also, a tournee knife. This is a Shun Classic and you notice it's kind of a hook blade. And it's used for peeling and garmdige work and so forth. It's meant to be held in the hand like so. Some people again will put their finger behind it and then they'll use the tip to really guide it in order to cut in a very exact spot, usually in a drawing motion where you're pulling back on it.

This is a Hinkle Four Star II. This is a mini boning knife. A lot of the characteristics of a regular full-size boning knife, but just in a paring knife. Again, you have the narrow blade with the curved area here where you can cut with this back end and then it tapers up to a fine point. It's not flexible, just barely, you know, like the regular boning knife. And it grips in the hand really nice and you have the curve back. The Four Star II is a very popular handle with a lot of women because there's no corners. It's a very clean knife because there's no seam around. It does have a metal butt cap. It's a great little knife used for a lot of different things.

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