Originally Posted by Jroux
Ok,so i dont mean to come across as arrogant...that is not my intention what so ever by stating this..but i attend the Culinary Institute of America. We were taught in traditional french culinary fundamentals that, the proper way to grasp your blade is to grip it with the index and thumb (near the end of the blade closest to the bolster of course) .. However, the only time i have been taught to grip the knife with your fingers around the handle and the fingerprint of your index finger on the spine is when you are fabricating meat. For instance, finding the "natural seams" in a Beef shoulder clod, if you wanted to peel away the "sub-primals" you would need to "Draw" your knife though the seams to have clean separate sub portions of meat opposed to just hacking blindly...by having your index finger on the top of the blade ...the blade itself is an extension of your index finger which allows you to make long smooth cuts because in this instance you are separating thin connective tissue, opposed to chopping or dicing. And by the blade acting as an extension of your index finger, you are quite literally able to point out the areas to fabricate. Hope this helps...
I will add my two cents at this stage :) Have been absent for quite a while due to work, so need to make myself heard again :)
You have put it very nicely - drawing with the knife as opposed to dicing, mincing, cutting, etc...
The main reason you will see many sushi chefs holding their knifes the "wrong" way is, that more important than speed is the exact cut. Not to say that our friends across the sea are slow - anything but in my experience.
In my own humble experience it is definitely worth and advised to learn the traditional grip. There is a reason this has held its place in the culinary arts all these years, and trust me, it is not because it is the easiest way to grip a knife.
Safety is a major concern - not really for those that have experience and long hours behind them, but for people starting in the culinary arts.
Quite easily put - when you place your finger on the top, you are quite likely to slip of towards the side when trying to gain speed or doing a task for a very prolonged period of time i.e. prep. When this happens the finger is automatically placed under the moving knife - result is deep cuts or worse.
Pinching the knife will fatigue your fingers less and due to less pressure on the finger a slip will not automatically bring the finger down on the cutting board. Very easily - try it.
Take your knife and place your finger on the top. Now slip off and watch your finger propel down onto the working surface very quickly (pressure or whatever medical professionals would call it now).
Do the same with the pinch grip and notice, that as the finger is curled, there is less pressure and hence the finger does not propel down towards the working surface.
Ok, now that our of the way - of course the finger on top is not "wrong". I don't think it should be seen as a novice move or a sign that someone does not belong into the kitchen, BUT, learning the traditional technique holds a lot of merit and once mastered, it can always be customised to ones own preferences - even though I have not met many people who customise their knife grip.