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L.A. Times Test Kitchen tips: How to hold a chef's knife

July 25, 2011 |  6:00 am

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One of the first things culinary students learn when they enter the kitchen is how to properly hold a knife. Where and how you hold your blade determines your level of control.

To maximize control, "choke up" on the knife. This term refers to bringing your hand up the handle of the knife so it straddles the bolster (that thick piece of metal where the end of the handle meets the end of the blade), with your index finger and thumb gripping the blade itself (away from the edge, as shown).

The bolster gives the knife balance and can help keep your hands from slipping over the handle onto the blade. Holding the knife with your hand over the bolster can actually give you more control of the blade than simply gripping the handle itself. If you have a knife with a "bolsterless edge" (the handle meets the blade without a bolster), simply grip the handle and blade the same way, with thumb and index finger reaching over the handle to grip the blade. Be sure your index finger rests at the side of the blade and not on top of the blade (running the length of the blade, as if you were pointing) -- it may feel like you have more control, but you will actually lessen the balance.

Choking up on the knife may feel awkward at first, but you'll find it gets easier -- and feels more natural -- the more you do it. You may also find your hand is less tired after time in the kitchen.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

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-- Noelle Carter
Twitter/noellecarter

Photo: Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times

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