Scrimp on the outlay of your knife and you'll be painfully reminded of the adage that if you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys when it dulls after two uses and never regains its edge. A superior knife however may cost more at the outset but will be more than worth its weight in gold as time goes on. Because let's face it: a good set of knives will immeasurably enhance your cooking pleasure. Erstwhile ostensibly insurmountable tasks like fancy slicing, boning and filleting can now be executed with panache and ease, and like the fabled knight in shining armour, a good quality knife will also help forestall unnecessary injuries. I've never baulked at shelling out more than a couple of Benjamins for a good knife because a RM20 knife will live up to its legacy of being cheap but not at all cheerful. Aside from the endless frustration incurred from endeavouring to saw through things with a blunt blade, there's also the added indignity of immensely unsatisfying dearth of heft and feel in the hands that is the guaranteed byproduct of cheap materials. The second caveat when acquiring knives is that once you've conceded the wisdom of investing in good blades, you need to store and look after them well. Because, really, knives are much like women: even the most spectacular beauty will wilt when it's deprived of TLC and is kept in squalid conditions.
Because let's face it: a good set of knives will immeasurably enhance your cooking pleasure.
That said, what are the requisite blades needed to run a respectable home kitchen? If you are adamant on owning only one knife, then make your solitary purchase a chef's knife, and make sure it's a mighty fine one. Highly versatile and more hardworking than a driven direct marketer on a fat commission, the chef's knife's 8-10 inch blade slices, dices, chops and debones small cuts of meat with alacrity. I opt for a Global 8-inch-which is comparatively lighter than some other brands-when I want less weight but more mobility. When butchness is required though, then it's the Wusthof Classic Cook's Knife or Henckel Five Star with a friodur ice-hardened blade that I turn to because both have extremely sharp and precise blades while concurrently yielding a heft that is seriously satisfying and gives the wrist good momentum for efficacious cutting.
Probably one of the few knives that don't adhere to the "buy expensive" law, the cleaver is-like a good quarterback in football-utterly dependable to perform the heaviest, dirtiest work in the kitchen. It may lack the sleek looks of its cousins, but the cleaver is your best friend when you need to debone and butcher large cuts of meat, take apart chickens, or even hack through large bones. And you don't need a fancy pants knife with a three figure price tag to do this. Head instead for your local Chinese supply store, because you're more than likely to find sturdy and reliable cleavers for next to nothing which work just as well, if not better, than their costly counterparts, and the next time you roll up your sleeves for some serious cleaving, you'll have the satisfaction of mimicking your favourite chicken rice man on his chopping board to boot.
And you don't need a fancy pants knife with a three figure price tag to do this.
Although optional, a serrated utility knife should not be eschewed, because this trusty implement is highly versatile and can perform a multitude of tasks from slicing bread, meats, and food with a hard crust or outer skin, to cutting juicy, pliant-and potentially slippery-things like tomatoes.
Once you've armed yourself, you should remember that the satisfaction you glean from using your blades is directly linked to the effort you invest in maintaining them. Keeping on top of sharpening your knives-and that means doing it regularly rather than waiting for the dullness to set in-will ensure you have knives that are consistently the envy of other home cooks while concurrently providing you with a spectacular cutting experience every single time, even if it means you're spoiled for ever and need to take your blades with you when you cook in a kitchen other than your own.