I didn’t think any pan could top my favorite skillet, but this one does. The other has a more gradual slope form pan bottom to side, it’s somewhat wok-like, and it’s been my go-to for saute, sauced meats and vegetables, and omelettes for many years. It provided what I thought was even, easily controlled heat and the helper handle made cooking with and washing a heavy, large pan so much easier. But the new pan…well, I didn’t know how even and constant the temperature in a large skillet could be. The pan is a little larger than the old favorite and the sides are steeper but a little belled, making it easy to scrape with a spoon — all to the best. Four-egg omelettes fit perfectly and cook evenly; sauced vegetable/meat entrees seem to “bloom” evenly and more quickly.
Not the most important, but you might want to know…the pan is a lot prettier than what is shown in the Amazon listing. Not so obvious from the illustration is that it is precisely modeled, has a shiny (not satin) finish (see photo), and its handles and rivets are stylish. For me, the handle design is comfortably, ergonomically balanced.
Regarding wear, the pan has been hard used for a month, and spatula and scour marks are not yet in evidence, suggesting it’s as good or better quality skillet I’ve owned to date. – Dee
More reading: Are you hunting for the best skillet pan?
Although I count 15 pots and pans in my bulging kitchen cabinet, nearly half of them are mostly just taking up space. Below is a list of cookware that I have found to be indispensable for making my family’s meals (If you’re just starting out in the kitchen or are in very cramped quarters, you could get by with just numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 below):
1. Large (10 – 12 inch) stainless steel skillet (also called frying pan): My All-Clad skillet, probably the best wedding gift we received back in 1994 (a thousand thanks to my brother, Lincoln!), is excellent for browning or searing meats, sautéing vegetables, and making sauces. It’s my first choice for sautéing unless I need to use a nonstick skillet.
2. Large (10 – 12 inch) nonstick skillet (also called frying pan): A good nonstick skillet is vital for cooking eggs, making stir-fries, browning breaded fish or chicken fillets, or cooking anything else that may stick to regular cooking surfaces. I recently switched from Teflon coated pans that wear out after a couple of years to a more expensive but long lasting and exceedingly durable Scanpan cookware (made in Denmark) and I love it!
3. Small or medium (8 – 10 inch) nonstick skillet: Like the above, but this is great for making omelets, scrambled eggs, and other smaller and potentially sticky meals.
4. Large (6 – 12 quart) stockpot (also called pasta pot): Indispensable for making pasta, big pots of soup, boiling lots of potatoes or other vegetables, and making popcorn.
5. Medium (3 – 4 quart) stainless steel stockpot (also called saucepan): I use this beauty (this All-Clad was also a wedding gift from my wonderful brother) for steaming vegetables or rice or making small quantities of pasta.
6. Small (1 – 1 1/2 quart) saucepan: I prefer a stainless steel saucepan, which is perfect for making small amounts of sauce, single servings of soup, and for melting chocolate.
7. Dutch oven: This heavy duty pot, often made of coated cast iron, goes easily from stovetop to oven to table and can work well for making a roast, a stew or soup.
8. Cast Iron skillet: This isn’t one of my daily pans, but this inexpensive classic can’t be beat for browning steaks and pork chops or making skillet cornbread. I use it like an indoor grill. If properly seasoned (don’t wash it with soap, dry it immediately, and rub it with a little vegetable oil on a paper towel occasionally), a cast iron skillet can also be used as a nonstick skillet. (Read: Why a cast iron skillet is a kitchen tool you need)
I have found that it is worth investing in good quality pots and pans that can really help get great meals on the table and don’t need to be replaced often, if ever. For help choosing great pots that will last for years, I recommend the kitchen store, Sur la Table, and/or using the product ratings and advice in Cook With Tina.
Article source: The Scramble
Copper, cast iron, stainless steel, and aluminum cookware have different properties, which makes sets made of one material better for some uses than sets made of the other materials.
If I was starting out and needed an affordable, versatile set of cookware, I would choose aluminum or anodized aluminum. Aluminum conducts heat well, is lightweight, and is easy to handle. However, it also dents and scratches easily and warps when exposed to high heat. The scratches are a health concern because they make aluminum cookware difficult to clean and bacteria can grow on any food left in the scratches. Aluminum cookware also reacts to both alkaline and acidic foods. If I could afford to pay more, I would choose anodized aluminum cookware over plain aluminum because the anodizing hardens the aluminum. The cookware remains lightweight, but it is stronger and more resistant to scratching. Anodized aluminum takes longer to heat than plain aluminum, but, like plain aluminum, it still conducts heat well. In fact, anodized aluminum is a better heat conductor than stainless steel.
While stainless steel cookware does not conduct heat as well as aluminum, cast iron, or copper, it has one advantage over the other three. It does not react to either alkaline or acidic foods, which makes it versatile. Stainless steel cookware is heavier and more durable than aluminum, and it is dishwasher safe, which makes it easier to care for than either cast iron or copper. To solve the problem with conducting heat, I would choose stainless steel cookware with an inner core of copper or aluminum. That would give me a versatile set of cookware that conducts heat well. I could wait to add the copper and cast iron sets. (Read: Recommending the All Clad cookware)
Cast iron is durable, and once it has been seasoned, it has a naturally non-stick surface. Even when it is seasoned, foods can absorb some iron from the cookware, which can be a good thing. On the other hand, retaining the seasoning requires more time for cleaning and maintenance. Even when it is seasoned, cast iron still reacts to acidic foods, but enameled cast iron eliminates that problem. Cast iron takes time to heat up, but it conducts heat well. In fact, because it is heavier than the other cookware materials, it retains heat better. The heat retention makes it my choice, and the choice of many, for browning meats or cooking foods that need to simmer at low temperatures for long periods of time. However, the weight can also make it difficult for some to handle, especially when you add the weight of the food to the weight of the cookware. The heat retention can also be a problem when you need better control of the temperature so that you can bring up the heat quickly and reduce it just as quickly. Copper pots at pans offer more control over applying and removing heat.
Copper cookware conducts heat well, cooks food evenly, and as I’ve just mentioned, allows for excellent control over applying and removing heat. However, copper, like aluminum, reacts to both alkaline and acidic foods. Furthermore, just as some foods pick up iron from cast iron cookware, some foods pick up copper compounds from copper surfaces. This may cause gray streaks on light-colored foods, but more importantly, while copper in small amounts is an important nutritional mineral, absorbing too much copper leads to toxicity. Copper is also the most expensive of all cookware materials, and it requires regular maintenance and polishing. For these reasons, pure copper cookware would not be my choice for everyday use. However, copper pots and pans with a stainless steel or tin lining offers the conductivity and heat control of copper with a safe, versatile, non-reactive cooking surface.
While a hammered finish used to be an indicator of high-quality, hand-made copper cookware, most copper sets are now machine-made, and manufacturers can and do duplicate the hammered look in all price ranges. A sleek, smooth finish has become the more common one, reflecting current tastes in design.
The one quality that now separates the best copper cookware from that of lesser quality is the thickness of the copper. Some manufacturers’ product descriptions and specifications can be obscure on this point, so do your research on how to choose and buy cookware and ask sales representatives about the overall weight of each piece and the thickness of the copper on it. Look for cookware made from copper that is at least two millimeters thick. Research suggests that cookware made of copper that is two and one-half millimeters thick offers the best trade off between quality and price.
Avoid cookware with less than one and one-half millimeters of copper. Rolled edges are a sure sign that the copper is too thin. In most cases, bronze handles also indicate lower quality cookware while cast iron or stainless steel handles indicate higher quality. However, you will find that older, handmade copper sets from Villedieu, France will have a variety of materials used as handles. – An article from www.pickapan.com
Learning to cook is a lifelong process. It will take years—a lifetime really—to know what the pros know… But there are some basics that, as an adult, you should feel comfortable with. So if you’re turning 30 soon, make sure you can master these essential skills before the clock strikes midnight. Learn the items on this list, and you’ll not only know how to make many classic, everyday meals, but you’ll also open up a whole new world of roasting, grilling, emulsifying, and baking for yourself. Read on to transition from home cook to gourmet chef.
How to Grill a Strip Steak
Grilling a strip steak is the most essential skill of grilling. If you can do this well, you can truly impress, and everything else will come easy to you. Learning this is also your introduction to a meat thermometer—something you should definitely know how to use.
The Basics: Turn your grill to high. Brush your room-temperature half-inch-thick strip steaks (or boneless rib-eye) with oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place them on the grill and cook until golden-brown and slightly charred—about four to five minutes. Turn them over and continue cooking, using the thermometer to test their readiness. The rule of thumb is cook for two to five minutes (135°F for medium-rare), five to seven minutes (140°F for medium), or 8–10 minutes (150°F for medium-well).
Further Reading: The Food Network
Since we don’t all have grills at home, you should also know the basics of cooking a steak on the stovetop. Visit Saveur to learn.
How to Make Vinaigrette
Hirsheimer and Hamilton via Bon Appetit
Every cook should have a signature salad dressing, but it may take years to find yours. From creamy herb to balsamic, there are literally hundreds of different salad dressings to make, and the herbs and ingredients you choose will be what set yours apart. Perhaps the most basic dressing is vinaigrette. Learn this essential, and build in your favorite flavors from there.
The Basics: The classic formula for vinaigrette is one part vinegar to three parts olive oil. Put them in a jar, seal the lid, and shake to combine. Season with salt and pepper. To introduce more flavor, you can add lemon juice, honey, or Dijon mustard, or play with the types of vinegar and oil you use.
Further Reading: Real Simple
How to Make Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is essential to both Italian and American cuisine, and despite the fact that we all have a store-bought jar or two in our pantries, it’s incredibly easy to make. You can make it with fresh or canned tomatoes, and the most basic recipe requires as little as three ingredients. Many cooks will add herbs, sugar, tomato paste, or other vegetables to the pot, but when you’re in a pinch, simply ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and salt will suffice.
The Basics: Sauté minced garlic in olive oil in a saucepan until it is translucent. Add about one and a half to two pounds of fresh peeled and roughly chopped tomatoes or two cans of chopped tomatoes to the pan. Turn up the heat, and bring the tomatoes to a simmer. Turn down the heat, and allow them to cook gently for at least 40 minutes, occasionally stirring. Remove from the heat and season with salt.
Further Reading: Mario Batali
How to Roast a Chicken
If you eat poultry, you have to know how to roast a chicken. Roast chicken can be used in countless recipes; make one Sunday night, and it’ll feed you all week long! It may seem daunting, but it’s actually fairly simple and requires only a few ingredients.
The Basics: Preheat your oven to 450°F. Let your chicken come to room temperature and then dry it really well with paper towels. Drizzle the bird with olive oil and rub it all over the skin. Season the inside and outside of the chicken with lots of salt and pepper. Truss the chicken (aka tie the legs together with twine). Place it in your roasting pan, breast side up. Put it in the oven for 40–50 minutes. Check it with a meat thermometer and remove it when the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
Further Reading: BuzzFeed
Article shared from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/25-skills-every-cook-should-know
Buying a standard coffee maker is complicated enough, but buying an espresso machine is even more complicated. But if you’re ready to dive into the world of home espresso brewing, finding the right machine is crucial.
While there are quite a few different types of espresso makers, semi-automatic and fully-automatic machines are the most popular. But what’s the difference between the two, and how does each one work?
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
Semi-automatic machines were invented in the 1940s by Gaggia, an Italian barista. It’s user-friendly and convenient, which is something its predecessor (the Piston-style brewer) couldn’t offer.
These machines have an electric pump, which generates a guaranteed 8-9 bars of pressure – the optimal range for brewing espresso. Like its name suggests, you’ll still have to do a little bit of work before you can start brewing. You’ll still need to grind and tamp the coffee, so it fits properly into the portafilter. But once you attach the portafilter, the machine will take over and continue the brewing process.
Semi-automatic machines are what I personally have the most experience with. They’re the most popular type of home brewing machine and tend to be the most affordable option. Plus, they also give you the option of brewing tea or café Americanos.
Fully-Automatic Espresso Machines
Fully-automatic machines are very similar to semi-automatic machines. The only real difference between the two is that fully-automatic machines are a one-touch brewing system. Simply turn it on, and the machine will control the volume of water pushed through the coffee grounds. Once the pre-determined amount of espresso is brewed, the machine will stop automatically.
A fully-automatic machine is a great option for multitaskers. If you plan on doing other things while you’re brewing your coffee, this might be the right option for you.
Fully-automatic machines are used in commercial coffee shops because they free up the barista’s hands, allowing them to prepare multiple drinks at once.
As far as quality is concerned, fully- and semi-automatic machines are right on par with each other. The one advantage semi-automatic machines have is that they’re more affordable. Selection of fully-automatic machines for home brewing is also limited.
Aside from semi- and fully-automatic espresso machines, you’ll also find super-automatic. These brewers take it one step further by adding in a burr grinder. With just one touch of a button, the machine will grind the beans and brew up a fresh cup of fresh, delicious espresso. Of course, you also have the option of choosing between other drinks (sometimes dozens), such as cappuccino, latte and macchiato.
In short, semi-automatic machines take a lot of the guesswork out of brewing espresso. Simply grind the beans, tamp and attach the portafilter. The machine takes care of the rest. Fully-automatic machines take it one step further by automatically controlling the volume of water pushed through the grounds.
While fully- and super-automatic machines are really convenient, they come at much higher prices than semi-automatic machines. If you have the budget, the added convenience may be worth the extra price. But for the average espresso-lover, a semi-automatic machine is a smart option. Read the full article at Brown’s Coffee.
It’s not very often you meet a young person such as Kepa, an enthusiastic chap in his early twenties, who is already producing the most amazing goat’s cheese. I met him at his farm in Amorebieta-Etxano, where the views were something to behold. This is a really nice, simple salad I made using Kepa’s fantastic cheese with plenty of carrots, onions, celery, garlic and some tomatoes. The caramelised walnuts are great as an aperitif with your beer – just add some flakes of salt and they are ready.
Lentils & goat’s cheese with caramelised walnuts
by Jose Pizarro
Ingredients (serves 4)
- olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- few sprigs of oregano
- 300 g (10½ oz) Spanish pardina
- 600 ml (20 fl oz) fresh vegetable
- 2 ripe vine tomatoes, skins removed
- and chopped
- 75 g (2½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- handful of walnuts
- 100 g (3½ oz) soft goat’s cheese
Heat a little oil in a deep pan and gently fry the onion, carrot and celery for 15 minutes until really tender. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more, then add the bay leaf, oregano and lentils. Pour in the stock and add the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 30–35 minutes until the lentils are starting to break down and make a lovely thick sauce.
Meanwhile, put the sugar in a pan with 2 tablespoons of water and dissolve over a low heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 4–5 minutes until you have a golden caramel, then add the walnuts and mix together to coat. Tip the walnuts onto a baking sheet lined with greased baking paper and leave to cool. Spoon the lentils into four warmed bowls, add a scoop of goat’s cheese to each bowl, then top with the caramelised walnuts.
Spanish Recipes from San Sebastián and beyond by José Pizarro (Hardie Grant, £25.00)
Burrata di Andria with smoked aubergine
By Sartoria chef patron Francesco Mazzei
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 250gr burrata
- 1kg aubergine black
- 50gr basil pesto
- 200gr carasau bread
- 50ml mosto cotto
Charcoal grill or oven roast the whole aubergines until they are soft, put them in a bowl and cover with cling film or a tight lid and let them completely col down.
Cut the aubergines In half an scoop all the pulp out. Place it into a sieve or a colander and leave drain overnight in the fridge. Blend the aubergine adding some marjoram and adjusting with salt.
Heat the oven at 180°C, drizzle the carasau bread with olive oil and salt and toast it for a couple of minute.
Place the Burrata in a serving dish, add the aubergine, season with the basil pesto, drops of mosto cotto and finish with pieces of toasted carasau bread.
Recipe courtesy of http://www.standard.co.uk (Vegetarian recipes to try from top London chefs)
With so many brands and models of espresso machines out there, it is probably not so easy for you to determine which ones are the best espresso machines under 200 dollars.
If you are like most people, you want the best machine available within your budget.
Your price limit of $200 says a lot about you – it’s a smart choice! Because for this amount, you can expect a well-built and functional espresso machine – just without the complicated features.
Those premium features are either simply not available at this price level or only appreciated by the baristas in the coffee shops.
To make your buying decision easier, I have carefully reviewed and selected the three best espresso machines under $200! And if you only want to compare the facts, the table below of the top rated espresso machines should be your next step!
Furthermore, you can find helpful explanations about the content below the table in case you need more information.
Semi-Automatic Vs. Full-Automatic
You need coffee beans, grind them, fill the portafilter and tamp it. You start AND stop the espresso making process.
You need coffee beans, grind them, fill the portafilter and tamp it. You ONLY start the process and the espresso machine automatically stops after a given time.
Pump Vs. Steam
These espresso machines force the heated water with a pump through the grinds. The pressure is much stronger as it is with steam machines. Hence, the espresso tastes much better and you get a thicker crema.
Water is heated until it comes to a boil to produce steam. The steam creates the pressure to force water through the coffee grounds. These machines are cheaper than pump driven machines but have disadvantages: less crema because of lower pressure; eventually bitter espresso, since boiling temperature (to create the steam) is too high for a perfect espresso.
Related article: The best espresso machines for perfect brew
I know you have set yourself a budget but still demand the best! Therefore, I have carefully selected the three best espresso machines under $200.
No matter which machine you will choose – the DeLonghi, Mr. Coffee or Espressione – all three make delicious, rich espresso and thus qualify to be the top espresso machines within your price limit.
As a result, you can decide for or against a machine based on special features, like the milk tank, E.S.E support or something completely different.
Ask yourself, what is the key feature for your final buying decision? Now it’s time for you to decide!
Source from Coffeeble
A kitchen knife, one of the most important tools of a kitchen enthusiast, is actually indispensable. Such an important tool, or I’d rather say equipment, cannot possibly be just of any quality, and I am not just talking about the sharpness of the blade. Quality includes the handling, precision, life, and many other things. Cooking is an art, and a good kitchen knife is one of the most important paint brush of your arsenal. Now, let us dive head-on into the some of the best kitchen knives in the market. Henckels is the king of knife-makers in the whole damn Universe (My Universe, at least!). This brand has been around since the 1700s. They have around 11 lines of knives, Pro S is the one we will be talking about here. It is made of one no-joint chunk of steel, featuring a full-tang, a bolster, and a three-rivet handle. As classic as it gets. Messermeister, a German brand, is an elite line from the lands of the preceding brand. It might not be as famous as the previous one, but don’t you doubt Messermeister’s quality. It’s Elite comes in a 9-inch size, working as both, an 8 and a 10-inch, but doesn’t cost more than an average 8-inch, smooth, eh? Shun is a very famous Japanese brands in the United States, and why not? It’s flagship, the Classic, is true to its name. Sharp and attractive. Nothing would mind getting sliced by this beauty. It is incredibly light and flaunts a Pakkawood handle. The D-shaped contour might just fit your hands like it was made for you, just like it happened when I gripped it. Lakeland’s Chef Knife covers everything a kitchen knife stands for. Stainless steel, Completely forged blades have seen a special ice-hardening process, and hence will give you reinforced strength. I have been using them for quite some time and I must say that the blade stays sharper for a longer time. One great quality it possesses is a soft-grip handle making this blade easy to control, even if your hands are wet, and you know it happens a lot. IO Shen has come up with an incredibly sharp blade which stays sharp for an equally incredible amount of time. A special 15-degree angle hand-sharpened knife gives you extraordinary slicing and outstanding control. It’s steel gives up to 300 times higher resistance as compared to your average boring stainless steel, so go for it if you want a long-term relationship with this beauty. This was my opinion on the best kitchen knives available out there for you to grip and cut, but please, do it with care!
Organizing your pots and pans can be a daunting task to tackle in your kitchen, because they are all so big and unwieldy.
That, and there are lots of ways to do it, some of which work better in certain kitchens than others.
It seems like, for some reason, most people think of hanging pot and pan racks as the default method for storing these items, but really there are lots of ways to do it, some of which may work better for you.
But before you begin trying to figure out how you’ll organize your pots and pans, make sure you’re only organizing the ones you really need to keep. Each organizing project needs to start with decluttering. Here’s my article on how to declutter pots and pans, which lists 6 questions you should ask yourself when culling your cookware collection to make sure you’re only keeping what is necessary.
Below I’ve gathered a collection of hall of fame submissions from readers who’ve done this organizing mission as part of Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge.
As you’ll see as you scroll down they’ve used a variety of method to get the job done, but if they work that’s really all that matters!
I will point out that with whatever method you choose you need to think about not only where you’ll store the pans and pots, but also the lids.
Often times the lids are forgotten in the organizing rush, but being able to match them up quickly with the pot you choose is important for convenience while cooking.
Remember too, that once you’ve become inspired and do this task yourself I’d also love for you to share your before and after pictures with me here and I might just add your accomplishments to the hall of fame as well!
Using such a rack can be a good idea in a kitchen where you’ve not got much cabinet space, but do have lots of wall space, or high ceilings (to hang from the ceilings).
It can look really pretty in your kitchen as well, as it does in Lee-Anne’s.
The thing to remember though is that these pots are then seen and on display, all the time. This may or may not be something you want to have happen because then you’ve got to put more time and attention into keeping them looking good.
I know my family’s pots and pans get used at least once a day, sometimes twice, and while they work quite well they don’t look showroom lovely anymore, but look worn and a bit dingy with use.
They’re not something I want to display in my home. So for me a wall display would not make me happy in the long run.
On the other hand some people have some very high quality pots and pans, such as copper ones or beautiful shiny stainless steel, or cast iron, etc. They want to display them and take pride in their beauty.
If that’s you I say go for it! Show ’em off and save cabinet space for other things at the same time.
1. Make a hot breakfast.
To make oatmeal or other hot cereals, add a little less milk or water than you would for stovetop cooking (and some chopped nuts and dried fruit if you want). The “keep warm” function will keep food from getting cold and gooey―perfect for days when everyone gets up at a different time.
2. Steam vegetables.
If your machine comes with a steamer rack, use it to cook cut vegetables, tofu, potatoes, or even shrimp, fish fillets, or chicken breasts. Take out and serve as an easy, one-pot meal.
3. Make risotto without stirring.
Saute onions in butter in an open rice cooker, then add 1 part Arborio rice and 4 parts liquid (such as broth and wine). Cook for about 25 minutes in an on/off cooker or use the “slow” or “porridge” cycle if your machine has one. Mix in grated cheese and herbs at the end.
4. Slow-cook soups, beans, or stews.
Give your rice cooker enough liquid and time and it will create long-simmered dishes without scorching or boiling over (the way slow cookers sometimes can). Try split-pea soup with ham, or put beef (that’s been browned on the stove) and vegetables in the cooker with tomatoes, wine, and herbs for a hearty dinner.
5. Poach fruit.
A rice cooker works for healthy desserts of fruit simmered in juice, wine, or maple syrup. Or make applesauce and other fruit sauces.
What I understood from numerous email conversations regarding this subject, the best kitchen knife is the one that won’t dull for a very, very long time, cut like crazy(definition of crazy varies from person to person), won’t rust, won’t require maintenance, cut everything(??? like a lightsaber?), won’t break etc… Mainly people want to find a knife that won’t dull for long time, preferably forever. Well, I am looking for that kind of knife myself. For the collection 😉 Haven’t found it yet, honestly. Once I find I’ll post the link on my website, before that, we all have to sharpen and maintain our knives, no other way. Well, alternatively you can continue using a dull knife, or throw that one away and buy the new, sharp one.
Like I said above, there’s no one knife to rule them all. Make sure you understand what is that you want to use your knife for, and then based on that choose the one that suits you and your budget the best. I know this sounds rather vague, but it’s not exactly possible to give a recommendation not knowing what is the knife going to be used for. if you use the same knife to cut vegetables and chop chicken bones then I can’t recommend anything, but to reconsider. If you take care of your knives then choices are huge. I guess it’s easier if you decide what do you need that knife for.
– If you’re looking for the more or less universal kitchen knives western Chef’s knife and it’s Japanese cousin Gyuto will work very well. You can use them pretty much for any type of food preparation, except for the bone chopping. There are real bargains in that area and for around 75$ you can get a very good chef’s knife or gyuto. Messermeister, F. Dick. from western school and Togiharu, Tojiro DP, Kanamesa all provide reasonably good performance for a good price. If you want something better then, Chef’s Choice Trizor 10X or Henckel’s twin Cermax are worth looking at for western knives. For Japanese gyutos, I personally consider Akifusa and Yoshikane gyutos to be real bargains at their price point, 175$ and 150$ respectively. You can find more on Gyuto Reviews Pages.
An alternative to the chef’s knife in versatility can be the Santoku (occasionally incorrectly called – Santuko). Although, I personally don’t see it as versatile as gyuto and consider it more of a vegetable knife than anything else. There are tons of Santokus out there. For whatever reason that became the most widespread Japanese influenced knife in the western world. I don’t have Japanese made Santokus anymore, except for the Tojiro Flash Santoku. Don’t use it much either. Although for a lot of people 180mm(7″) santoku works a lot better than 240mm(9.5″) gyuto. From other santokus I’ve used, I thinkFallkniven Santoku is a very good choice, but requires some care, it’s stainless don’t worry. Alternatively you might prefer Henckel’s Granton Edge Santoku, has it’s pros. both are rather medium budget knives.
– Both gyuto/chef’s and santoku knives work well for vegetables, but dedicated veggie knives such as Watanabe Nakiri(review) or Takeda Chuka Bocho(review) a.k.a. Chinese cleavers will do. Again, you can get a cheap cleaver for around 20$ or spend closer to 400$ on Takeda cleaver linked here. Same goes for Nakiri and Usuba, there are cheaper ones for 50$ and all the way to 400-500$.
– Very wide choice. As the name suggests this is a long knife designed to slice through rather larger meals. Pretty much every maker makes one or models. Mac cutlery, Shun, Wusthof they all make good slicers for reasonable prices, under or slightly above 100$. Some are pointy, others with the rounded tip. Length can vary too, so you have a lot to choose from. Sujihiki is a Japanese equivalent of the slicer in the west and again, check the makers list in gyuto section for bargains or high end stuff. I personally love my Watanabe Pro Sujihiki and his Kintaro Ame Sujihiki.
Paring And Peeling
– One more knife that is very often needed in the kitchen. Interestingly enough those small knives, as usual 8-12cm(3″-4″) long are quite expensive. Not sure why. Expect to pay anywhere from 35$ to 150$ from low to high end. As you can guess 150$ isn’t the most expensive one ;). I really like my Tojiro Flash Paring knife for its damascus clad blade, very good edge holding and excellent cutting performance. For more budget minded and from my personal experience I can also recommend Global GS-40 paring knife.
Finally let’s go through the minimal set of the knives one would need in his/her kitchen. Assuming that you’re just a home cook then IMHO you will most definitely need: A chef’s knife or gyuto. That’s a must. If you don’t like bigger chef’s knives or developed affection for Santokus then that is the one. Next is the small paring knife. Actually you can do without it, but too inconvenient to do small jobs with a big knife and they[paring knives] don’t cost that much. Also, very high edge holding isn’t really necessary for those small knives. Of course the better the knife, better you are, but it’s unlikely you will do a lot of harsh cutting with the small one. The last, but not least in the list is a serrated bread knife. That will double as your slicer and works wonders for your tomatoes as well, that is, in the absence of sharp knives.
In the end, pick a brand or two you trust and then narrow down your selection based on intended use, price and personal preferences. If someone has already reviewed your knife of choice read it, but bear in mind it was still someone else, not you. Whatever he/she liked or disliked might not work or vice versa for you
Let’s say one more time, it matters greatly, how much or how well do you maintain your knife. With simple steeling which takes less than a minute after every or every other use I can keep my knife real sharp few times longer than the same or more expensive knife without steeling. So, in the end it may worth it to buy 20$ knife and steel it, vs. buying 100$ knife and not dong it. Chances are very good that 20$ maintained blade will outcut 100$ neglected one, and initial performance difference less likely to be one to five anyways. Except if you sharpen them yourself and know how to do that properly then the difference will be 10 to 1 or 20 to 1, trust me on that one 😉