The knives you reach for...
Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:16 AM
These are the knives I reach for when I don't reach for the aforementioned three:
Junky knife from the dollar store: The first kitchen knife I ever bought, back when I moved out from my parents' house well over a decade ago. It's shaped roughly like a chef's but never had nearly enough "belly" and was only 6" long to boot. These days it's nearly unrecognizable in shape, due to my grinding out nicks and chips from the edge over the years. It lost about 1/4" from the tip when I dropped it on the floor once and now sports a cool "tanto-style" profile. I keep it sharp but it won't hold an edge very long, which helps me practice my sharpening skills. This one lives in my knife block, and gets used for cutting cardboard and rope and by clumsy guests who want to help in the kitchen.
Swiss Army "Soldier": You know how you can go to someone's house for a BBQ, offer to help with the food prep and the sharpest thing they own is the chisel in the garage? A well-sharpened pocketknife can help! This one lives on my keyring. I like the Soldier model because its not so bulky it's uncomfortable to keep in my pocket all day, and Swiss Army knives are associated with benevolent things like the Boy Scouts and MacGuyver by non-knife people who might feel threatened by one of the more "tactical" folders.
Small chef's knife: I suppose this is a bit of a cheat because it's a chef's but still. I find the 10" chef's is just too unwieldy to finely mince small amounts of ingredients (such as garlic) so I use a 6" "Alton's Angles" Shun I got on sale. The angle on the handle makes the knife act as if it had a lot more "belly" than the shape of the blade by itself would, which I think helps a lot in quickly mincing things. I understand mezzalunas are made for this purpose and Messermeister makes a special knife for just this purpose as well.
Boning knife: I like to buy large bone-in cuts of meat for stirfries and stews and screwed things up enough times with the 10" chef's that I got a knife just for this purpose. It makes things far easier, with much less meat left on the bones.
So what do you guys use when you don't use a chef's, bread or paring knife?
Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:29 AM
Slicing knives can generally slice meat thinner than a chef's knife, so I've got one more curved one and one longer straight one.
I recently picked up a Wusthof offset sandwich knife with a reverse scalloped blade, and I'm kind of ambivalent about it. It's very sharp, and it has more or less replaced my regular scalloped bread knife, but the edge is always collapsing. Unlike regular scalloped blades, it can be honed with a steel to keep the edge straight, but it seems to require a lot of maintenance for a serrated knife. My parents have an older Henckels bread knife with a blade like a hacksaw blade. No one seems to make that anymore.
Edited by David A. Goldfarb, 20 January 2010 - 10:30 AM.
Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:36 AM
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Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:47 AM
Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:54 AM
The only things I still do exclusively with chef's knives (Wustor, Henckels, Shun Ken Onion) is breakdown chickens or and anything else that requires a point and heft. But when I've got to prep mirepoix or cut potatoes into large dice or whatever, I grab the nakiri.
ETA: I neglected to say why! Among many other things (ability to hold an edge, thin blade, handle), I'm particularly enamored of the long, straight edge, which enables me to use nearly the entire blade for chopping. When I slice through a big onion, the entire cutting edge comes into contact with the cutting board, meaning that I didn't leave little strands of scallion or spinach still connected.
Edited by Chris Amirault, 20 January 2010 - 10:57 AM.
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I took my potatoes down to be mashed
Then I made it over to that million dollar bash
Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:56 AM
Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:02 AM
EDIT: I see what you mean with the straight edge and the strands, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for me with the chef's. I rock it from the tip towards the back, with a spot always in contact with the board, and a small rearwards movement throughout so it cuts as a "slice" as well as a "push cut". I don't know if it's technically correct and it took some practice until I could do it automatically but it gives me clean cuts and it's adequately fast.
Edited by Dakki, 20 January 2010 - 11:08 AM.
Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:30 AM
I still try to be a minimalist, but I use a couple more knives than I used to. The slight additional complexity is made up for by the huge improvement in results and efficiency. And fun. I like doing prep now.
My #1 knife is 270mm Ikkanshi Tadatsuna Gyuto, which is the most high performance knife I've ever had in my hands. I've had to throw out virtually all my hard-won European cutting techniques in favor of much more delicate Japanese techniques, because the blade is not designed for man-handling. What it does, though is stunning: it falls through the food under its own weight, even though it weighs half as much as my German knife. It makes such clean cuts that food stays fresh longer. Sometimes hours or even days longer. This thing has gotten me to completely rethink everything about prep. A five pound pile of onions or apples doesn't seem like a chore anymore; it seems like martial arts practice.
For the things that the gyuto won't do, like lopping off fish heads, chopping chocolate, and rock-chopping woody herbs, I still love my old 8" german knife (a cool Eberhard Schaaf Goldhamster, that has just been improved by Dave Martell, who ground down the bolster). This is a knife I can hand to a guest cook without too much fear of disaster.
For hand work, a 3" paring knife. I have an inexpensive Japanese one by Al Mar. A lot of chefs like the $5 Forschners.
I cut a lot of bread, so my 270mm Mac bread knife is a godsend. The gyuto does fine on soft bread, but if there's a hard or brittle crust, I grab the mac.
Meat slicing: a 270mm kikuichi carbon steel sujihiki (basically the japanese version of a western slicing knife). This is cool, but I'd survive without it.
Boning/utility: a 6: Forschner with wood handle. Cheap, perfect. For sandwiches, trimming meat, attacking packages. Soft steel, but easy to whack back into shape.
And! I recently got a $10 cleaver from chinatown. Literally $9.95. Medium weight. I got it because even my chef's knife turned out to be no match for the neck bones of an 18 lb turkey. I thought it would be nice to have a heavy, cheap blade for any food that I really need to get medieval on.
Edited by paulraphael, 20 January 2010 - 11:33 AM.
Posted 20 January 2010 - 06:15 PM
Next would be the 6" heel-less kitchen knife. Opens bags & packs, slices cheese, pares, handles any in-hand cutting. Or the Thai-market pocket knife that I keep grabbing off the table to poke a whole in the warp for something I'm going to microwave - the one I bought the year that airport security on the way there actually found my sailor's knife in my luggage.
I'm with David Goldfarb on a filleting knife - nothing takes ribs off fillets or takes fillets off the fish like my thin, flexible-bladed fish filleting knife. I've got it set at 12.5 degrees per side... (my chef's knife gets to cut through the ribs for anything bigger than a few ounces).
Butcher knife for cubing large amounts of meat for sausage, stew or braise (this too has a finer edge than the chef's). I don't actually butcher whole animals or primal cuts (can barely buy bone-in red meat) so I don't feel I really take advantage of the unusual tip shape.
I have a loooong carving knife that I carve roasts with, finished with a rough stone to help it through crispy crusts, and my cleaver only seems to get an outing for cooked birds, or breaking up fish carcasses for stock (I buy chicken carcasses already split up).
Posted 20 January 2010 - 08:02 PM
Recently I was given a Kyocera Ceramic Santoku Knife (Green, 14cm Blade) and have found it to be an awesome addition to my kitchen. I now find my self continually reaching for it when i'm in the kitchen. I find it great for cutting tomatoes and other salad stuff to peeling the skin off pumpkins. I love it, its almost converted me..
I find that by using magnetic knife rack I can simply choose the best knife for the job at hand. I typically steer clear of my husbandís 2 massive (50cm) butcher knives, although they do come in handy when weíre slicing juicy big rump steaks right off an aged fillet. [/font]
Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:54 PM
Next in line is my nakkiri, followed by my oyster shucking knife. (What can I say? Bivalves are my life. They go with beer.)
Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:44 PM
... the knives people actually use in Japan (either for Eastern or Western cooking)....
I'm biting my tongue. (Picture shows 100yen-store knife). But if you get a thread going, I'll volunteer at least to go out and shoot some knife porn locally.
Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:47 PM
I will say I think a good gyuto/chef's is the best of all worlds and Western-made santokus would probably be the worst, but that's just my opinion.
I probably agree with that. Those pseudo-santokus (especially the ones with the thick blades and the dimples) are just mind-bogglingly useless.
I like a thin gyuto because it does so many things exceptionally well. There is nothing that a santoku (even a good one) or a nakiri can do that a gyuto can't do at least as well. The reverse isn't true.
A heavy chef's knife (or medium weight cleaver) does do some things that a gyuto can't, so it's a reasonable thing to have around as well. Some of the more commited will use a deba for heavy duty things, but they have to sharpen a portion of the blade to be especially durable in order to get away with this.
Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:13 AM
For the other 40% of regular prep work I use other these other knives to suit my mood:
*160 mm Carter Funayuki - smaller utility knife for a small chopping board type quick meals
*215mm Takeda Gyuto - my sharpest thinnest chef's knife, will obliterate all veggies in it's path. Is quite high sided so great for scooping. Fantastic cheesecake knife too.
*240mm Itou Gyuto - my "sexiest" knife, special steel, damascus pattern, stag-horn handle. Sharp and beautifully balanced like a conventional western knife but I admit to babying it a little. Hardest to sharpen too.
I also have a small Nenox paring that I bought after taking the photo below. It's always out when one of the main knives is in use. For those paring jobs like peeling shallots in the hand.
Those are my main knives for regular prep stuff. I have these for more specialised work:
*Medium heavy Chinese cleaver mainly for chopping poultry through the bone. Has to be sharp so the bones don't splinter when you present it neatly in the Chinese manner. It can handle pork bones too and is sharp enough to split lobsters cleanly. Just fantastic, the biggest yet cheapest knife in the photo.
*270mm Masamoto Yanagi and Hiromoto Sujihiki. Want something sliced? You got it! The yanagi is just a dream knife for slicing gravlax at xmas.
*180mm Korin/Suisin Deba, for breaking down fish of all sizes.
*Flexible global filleting/boning knife. I mostly use this knife in conjunction with the sujihiki, a heavy chopper and a saw for breaking down pigs. But it is so versatile that I fillet delicate sole with it too.
*Itou paring knife, pretty knife with the same damascus steel as it's big sister. Peculiar shape for a paring but I've found that it's wonderful for fruit. Destones mangos to give two perfect halves without wasting any of the precious flesh.
*Bread knife and various small junk knives I use to pry open shellfish (not pictured)
That's all, it's probably more than your average kitchen but less than your average knife-nut who are a very acquisitive breed indeed. I went through a phase four years ago of buying all these knives but got to the stage where I had a wonderful knife for every application I could conceive of; so I stopped. I don't consider myself a knife-nut otherwise I'd have carried on buying regardless. No really I don't need to see how the cowry-x in the Hattori performs against the special tool steel in the Yoshikane, I've got food to cook!
As you can see I really don't see the point of having one knife to rule them all. Once you appreciate how precision tools can do certain things that general all-rounders can't, it'll change the way you prepare food for the better. It's a joy to use good tools and since knives are fundamental tools for cooking it should mean that the food is better too. Especially if you value how a dish looks. So in answer to which knife I would reach for first: all of them.
Edited by Prawncrackers, 21 January 2010 - 05:16 AM.
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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:29 AM
... a longwinded, highly technical, boring and pointless monologue...
Awww ! You left out the best bit ? We love that stuff around here - knock yourself out. Extra points for pointless. What can you add to the bible ?
Not a whole lot, but I could probably do a short bit on materials from an engineer's viewpoint if someone held a gun to my head. Let me gather my thougts and I'll post something.
Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:28 PM
Posted 21 January 2010 - 09:33 PM
But the oddest knife I have in the bunch is a..............
Black & Decker electric knife.
O.K. know, force shields up while I 'splain.........
Nothing, but nothing cuts a pate en croute better. Any other knife will tear the crust off of the pate, or tear out the aspic, but not the $10.00 p.o.s.
Head cheese, and aspic as well.
Nothing cuts a mousse cake better. Layers of mousse, sponge, and chocolate curls.
Lasagna, still hot in the hotel pan. Anything else would tear the pasta sheets.
Posted 22 January 2010 - 06:39 PM
Posted 22 January 2010 - 07:39 PM
I think that consideration of knife to use is determined somewhat (but not trivially) by the surface your using it against.
Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:19 AM
Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
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Posted 23 January 2010 - 07:47 PM
Posted 25 January 2010 - 02:52 PM
First post here but touched on something I love, knives.
I was a long time lover of Global as it was the first brand I used that was of a more premium range, I bought my girlfriend a set of Wustof and was really impressed with the action of the knife and also how sharp they stayed in comparison to the Globals.
Recently I came back from Canada with a MAC Damascus 7" Vegetable knife...
so far I am really pleased with it, the cut is clean, accurate and wow do they stay sharp!!!
I am now going to look into another knife in the same style "Damascus", to replace my main chef size knife...
I would love some of that KD kit, but not in this lifetime!!!
Posted 25 January 2010 - 05:38 PM
A 12" Dexter serrated bread knife (used exclusivly on bread,, And a 7" Forschner, offset serrated knife that gets used on most everything else , except for heavy duty dicing of onions,vegetables, etc, and breaking down large amounts of meat.where the proper Messermiester chefs knife or boning knife gets used...
Posted 01 February 2010 - 11:58 AM