A paring knife is a knife with a small blade for working with small objects.
Its tapered blade, 7 1/2 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) long, ends in a sharp, fine tip. The blade will be up to 2 cm (3/4 inch) at its widest point near the handle.
The handles can be wood or plastic.
The cutting edge of the blade can be straight or serrated. Serrated edge paring knives, also referred to as “Serrated tomato/vegetable knives”, are better for cutting through tougher skins of fruits or vegetables, and for tomatoes.
Paring knives can be used for:
- butterflying small pieces of meat or shrimp;
- scraping seeds from peppers or fruit;
- fine mincing (though slow);
- digging out eyes from potatoes, and blemishes from fruit and vegetables.
Don’t use a paring knife for large pieces of food, unless you have nothing else to hand. A paring knife can be dangerous precisely because it’s so small — that means that you have to get your hands in close to the action.
Most people keep several paring knives on hand at a time.
The Japanese version of a paring knife is called a petty knife.