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An Edge in the Kitchen


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#61 racheld

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 07:08 PM

Chad,

I'm enjoying this repartee immensely, and REALLY enjoyed the book. My tastes in the knife department are a bit plebeian, but that doesn't color or hamper my enjoyment of the descriptions and the lessons, or my admiration for your perseverance in research and knowledge of your subject.

And thanks for all the follow-up---it's quite interesting, as well.

rachel, who is vastly enamored of adjectives, herself, as if you couldn't tell
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#62 isomer

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 07:17 PM

Hi Chad,

First, thanks for the great book! I've learned a great deal from it. To start with, I went and bought a ceramic "steel", which does indeed do a far nicer job than the smooth(ish) steel I was using before. I notice that the ceramic is picking up some dark streaks from the knives, which I assume are tiny metal deposits. Does this eventually load the ceramic? If so, how - and how often - do you clean it?

Thanks so much,

-Anthony (er... isomer)

#63 Peter the eater

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 07:36 PM

Chad, I’m continuing to enjoy your book in a big way. When I first picked it up, I was on my way to a family camping trip so I brought it along for the tent and fireside reading. I believe I was frightening people with my outbursts of laughter as I read your clever words, my face and your dust jacket half lit by flickering embers!

Like any good reference book, I think this one can be enjoyed while read in any order. I haven’t seen mention, but I’d like to hear what thoughts you have on crescent-shaped ulu style knives. I have one from Northern Ontario and I use it all the time – not to scrape hides but to chop herbs and slice pizzas, and more. I’ve never sharpened it but it needs it. I imagine these are a whole category of knife that warrants discussion.
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#64 Chad

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:12 PM

Chad,
I wanted to send you a BIG THANKS for all your work and contributions to eG.  My husband is using that sharpener you recommend (the wierd manual one from Oregon) and my knives are AMAZING now.  We have had Henkles for years now and he has previously used the electric Chef Choice sharpener.  It didn't do near as much for the blade as the manual one does.  He controls the angle of the cutting surface and has double beveled the edge on a couple for me to try out as well.  He's also softened the (?) spine of the knife for me so the grip is more comfortable.  What a difference!  I compared cutting lime halves, onions, tomatoes, carrots all between the old blade and the new and the new runs through the produce like it is nothing.  I have to work so much less to get the job done and that is a real tangible benefit.

Best wishes!

Genny

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Hi, Genny. Thanks! To you and your husband both. I'm glad you're enjoying the results of his efforts. The Edge Pro Apex is a great sharpening device, and one of the easiest ways to create repeatable, high performance edges. I'm thrilled that your husband has tried rounding the spines of your knives as well. It makes a world of difference. Happy I was able to point y'all in the right direction.

Take care,
Chad
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#65 Chad

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:20 PM

Hi Chad,

First, thanks for the great book! I've learned a great deal from it. To start with, I went and bought a ceramic "steel", which does indeed do a far nicer job than the smooth(ish) steel I was using before. I notice that the ceramic is picking up some dark streaks from the knives, which I assume are tiny metal deposits. Does this eventually load the ceramic? If so, how - and how often -  do you clean it?

Thanks so much,

  -Anthony (er... isomer)

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Great! As you've discovered, a fine ceramic honing rod does a much better job than most grooved steels. The dark streaks are indeed bits of weakened metal that have come off the edge of your knife. The easiest way to clean them off is with Barkeepers Friend, Comet, Soft Scrub or some other abrasive cleanser and a green ScotchBrite pad. It'll take about a minute, and your honing rod will be like new. I clean mine when A) there isn't much unloaded area left, or B) I'm using an abrasive cleanser for something else and already have some on a cloth or ScotchBrite pad. This is definitely a "when you get to it" sort of job. The rod will work even if it is fairly loaded up.

Take care,
Chad
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#66 Dave the Cook

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:43 PM

As long as we're on the subject of steels and honing rods . . . I have a plain steel rod, which I got on your (Chad's) recommendation in the original eGCI topic. Unfortunately, the steel fell apart after a couple of weeks, and I didn't follow up on the warranty, which is beside the point, since I have an unrelated question.

I never felt like I had any "feedback" from the steel. There was no rasping sound or tactile response. The blade just glided along the steel, so I never felt like anything was happening. Was I missing something? How can I check the effectiveness of a smooth steel?

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#67 stealw

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 11:20 PM

Quick question on Santoku's.

Was, well still am looking forward to getting one. Basically narrowed it down to three selections, 1. misono ux-10 2. kikuichi gold series and 3. glestain

What I have heard personally, from work, friends, knife store that the ux-10 is quite "hard" to sharpen for people not use to using/sharpening with a 70/30 blade. While the misono 440 is "easier" to handle in terms of sharpening I don't think I should 'downgrade' my choice per se the knife just for this reason.

Also, I have felt both the misono and kikuichi (in store), both feels pretty nice. However, the Glestain I have yet to see Anyone carry them (santoku's atleast) and do not want to order a knife online that I have never felt before. Anyone have any experience with the Glestain santoku, or even all three?

The Glestain santoku's online are ~$100 usd, kikuichi gold series ~$120, and Misono ux-10 ~$150. One advantage of the Glestains, they are all dimpled which creates little air-pockets if you will; have them on my current shun and seems to work.
(btw some info if matter: sharpen with a norton 2k grit, knife to use in restaurant, and currently use a chef knife but want to switch to smaller)

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#68 Chad

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 06:25 AM

As long as we're on the subject of steels and honing rods . . . I have a plain steel rod, which I got on your (Chad's) recommendation in the original eGCI topic. Unfortunately, the steel fell apart after a couple of weeks, and I didn't follow up on the warranty, which is beside the point, since I have an unrelated question.

I never felt like I had any "feedback" from the steel. There was no rasping sound or tactile response. The blade just glided along the steel, so I never felt like anything was happening. Was I missing something? How can I check the effectiveness of a smooth steel?

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Oh sure, blame me :raz:

I understand exactly what you mean. That is one of the reasons I've moved more toward the fine ceramic. There is more tactile response. Lately I've been impressed with the microfine grooved steels and borosilicate (Pyrex®) rods from HandAmerican. Forum member Dave Martell (of D&R Sharpening and its sister site JapaneseKnifeSharpening.com) carries them as well as the fine ceramic rods.

A ceramic rod will remove a microscopic amount of metal where a smooth steel won't. That might make a difference in the very long term, but the ceramic rod is removing weakened metal that will fold or roll anyway. With either style of rod, the knife will "skate" if your angle of attack is too shallow and you're just riding on the shoulder of the bevel. You will feel and hear when you are working the actual edge. It is harder to feel if your angle of attack is too steep. My feeling, though, is that because you are realigning the edge & removing weakened metal, doing so at the very edge rather than the full width of the bevel won't do any harm. It would take repeated steelings at a steep angle to even introduce a micro-bevel, in my opinion.

Hope this helps.
Chad
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#69 Chad

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 03:03 PM

Chad, I’m continuing to enjoy your book in a big way. When I first picked it up, I was on my way to a family camping trip so I brought it along for the tent and fireside reading. I believe I was frightening people with my outbursts of laughter as I read your clever words, my face and your dust jacket half lit by flickering embers!

I'm glad you're enjoying it! Of course when you combine maniacal laughter with a remote location, sharp knives and a book on cutting things up read by the eerie glow of a flickering fire, you've got the makings of a low budget horror movie. Your family probably thought you were working yourself up to "The Halifax Ulu Massacre."

I haven’t seen mention, but I’d like to hear what thoughts you have on crescent-shaped ulu style knives. I have one from Northern Ontario and I use it all the time – not to scrape hides but to chop herbs and slice pizzas, and more. I’ve never sharpened it but it needs it. I imagine these are a whole category of knife that warrants discussion.

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Peter, I don't deal with that style of knife in the book. I probably should in future editions. The ulu and the mezzaluna are specialty knives, so fell outside the scope of what I was going for. Though I do bake pizza often enough that I'm seriously considering a full size pizza knife. Those little wheel on a stick things drive me nuts. I'll have to figure out how to sharpen it, which should translate to ulu and mezzaluna style knives. I'll keep you posted.

Chad

Edited by Chad, 15 July 2008 - 03:03 PM.

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#70 Chad

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 03:18 PM

Quick question on Santoku's.

Was, well still am looking forward to getting one. Basically narrowed it down to three selections, 1. misono ux-10 2. kikuichi gold series and 3. glestain

What I have heard personally, from work, friends, knife store that the ux-10 is quite "hard" to sharpen for people not use to using/sharpening with a 70/30 blade. While the misono 440 is "easier" to handle in terms of sharpening I don't think I should 'downgrade' my choice per se the knife just for this reason.

Also, I have felt both the misono and kikuichi (in store), both feels pretty nice. However, the Glestain I have yet to see Anyone carry them (santoku's atleast) and do not want to order a knife online that I have never felt before. Anyone have any experience with the Glestain santoku, or even all three?

The Glestain santoku's online are ~$100 usd, kikuichi gold series ~$120, and Misono ux-10 ~$150. One advantage of the Glestains, they are all dimpled which creates little air-pockets if you will; have them on my current shun and seems to work.
(btw some info if matter: sharpen with a norton 2k grit, knife to use in restaurant, and currently use a chef knife but want to switch to smaller)

Jim

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You would be hard pressed to go wrong with any of them. I've owned both the Glestain and the Misono UX10 (gyutos, not santokus). Both sharpen up easily. I don't know much about the Kikuichi except that in general they make very fine knives. The Glestain is going to feel much like the Misono, i.e. a little handle-heavy. The deep dimples on the Glestains actually do work to keep moist foods from sticking to the blade. Their slicers (sujihikis) are particularly nice for that reason. The effect isn't going to be as noticeable on something like a santoku, where the wide blade presents plenty of surface area outside the dimples for the food to adhere.

From the factory the Misono has something like a 70/30 asymmetrical bevel. The Glestain has an unusual convex front and nearly flat back bevel. I'm reasonably certain the Kikuichi will be asymmetrical as well. Many western-style, Japanese-made knives are. It's really no big deal. If you sharpen by hand, the bevel is going to adapt to your sharpening technique anyway. I wouldn't worry about it.

Buy the one that fits your hands and budget best. You've got a great pool of candidates. There is no "best" here. Report back and let us know what you end up with.

Take care,
Chad
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#71 stealw

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 05:53 PM

Thanks a lot Chad.

Right now Korin (in manhattan, ny) has a summer sale, all knives 15% off. Quite a nice deal to jump on if anyone needs a new knife. Japanese styled only, though this store is very good, bot in service, knowledge and selection.

Also up in Dutchess, New York Warren cutlery I believe having a similar knife sale if anyone lives up there.

Jim

#72 Chad

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:13 AM

Not to be a complete shill :rolleyes: but I'm doing the CBS Early Show tomorrow morning. The plan is to show Harry Smith (and maybe Maggie Rodiguez) basic knife skills -- the Pinch & Claw, dicing an onion, and maybe roll cutting a pepper if time permits. I think it's a little ambitious for three minutes, but what the hell. It should be a lot of fun. Look for me toward the end of the show, 8:30 - 8:40 or so. Things are a little loose because the Emmy nominations are tomorrow, so they have to same room for live interviews with the nominees.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be in Philadelphia taping an episode of WHYY's A Chef's Table with Jim Coleman. I've also taped a segment with Lynne Rossetto Kasper for The Splendid Table. She's just as warm and personable on the phone as she is on the air. My bit will run some time toward the end of the month. I'll post actual air dates for both radio shows when I know them.

Depending on how much room my knife kit takes in my overnight bag, I might be able to drag my laptop along. If so, I'll try to post about the experience. If not, I'll post Friday morning and we can wrap up the Q&A with what it's like to do a national TV spot. Wish me luck!

Chad
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#73 Genny

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 09:11 AM

I've made a note to set the DVR. This will be fun to watch. Fingers crossed that you don't get bumped!

#74 Kerry Beal

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 11:46 AM

Looking forward to the reports. Unfortunately where I am working right now I probably won't get to watch, but post any online feeds that you can get cause I'd love to see it.

#75 Chad

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 06:05 AM

I've made a note to set the DVR.  This will be fun to watch.  Fingers crossed that you don't get bumped!

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Alas, as faithful viewers no doubt noticed I did get bumped. The Emmy nominations were that morning. Just as I was about to start my segment we got word to hold off. They had Neil Patrick Harris on the phone to talk about his nomination. I was bumped for Doogie Houser. That smarts.

We taped the segment just a little later. We were out on the plaza, and the producer wanted to make sure the crowd was still there for the spot. Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez were a lot of fun. Maggie in particular seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing and stuck around later to ask more questions. I demonstrated the Onion Quarter Trick and roll cutting a pepper, which is always a great visual.

The segment will probably run some time next week. I'll post the times and dates for the various appearances.

Thanks again to everyone for participating in this Q&A. You've been great.

Take care,
Chad
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#76 johnnyd

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 06:26 AM

I'm sorry, but footage of proper knife technique in the kitchen trumps Emmy stuff, anytime. But that's why I'm not a television producer...
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#77 racheld

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 07:01 AM

Pooh. :angry:
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#78 jgm

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 08:34 AM

The book arrived yesterday, and I can't wait to try the quarter-onion-roll trick. Very cool. Looking forward to the CBS segment and the radio shows... and the rest of the book!

#79 Octaveman

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 08:07 PM

I should add that if you're not intimidated by ordering from Japan (and you shouldn't be; it's easy), JapaneseChefsKnife.com has the excellent Hiromoto Gingami #3 210mm gyuto for $112. If you don't mind the fuss of a straight carbon (non-stainless) knife, the Hiromoto Aogami Super 210mm gyuto and related knives have legions of rabid fans. The steel, also known as Blue Super, is one of the best around. You just have to be a little more attentive in your care of the knife.

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Hi Chad, I know what you meant but the description of the Hiromoto AS might be misconstrued a little. The Tenmi-Jyuraku Series has a carbon steel core but is surrounded by stainless steel so there is a big element to these knives that are stainless. This type of construction means that only the carbon core is exposed at the edge (or about 5mm of it). So it's basically the best of both worlds...stainless sides with an incredible super blue core. As you said, there is a HUGE following of fanatics and rightly so too. I know you know these knives very well but I just wanted to add a little to what you said so people weren't put off by the concept of a carbon steel knife. BTW, if anyone is on the fence about carbon steel knives they are very easy to take care of. Rock on! :biggrin:


Edited to add: Do you really think the Gingami is a decent choice for $100 (give or take) level knives? Have you tried it? There aren't a whole lot of Japanese choices and I'm kinda getting tired of always recommending Tojiro to friends on a tight budget.

Edited by Octaveman, 18 July 2008 - 08:10 PM.

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#80 Chad

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 08:29 PM

Hi Chad, I know what you meant but the description of the Hiromoto AS might be misconstrued a little.  The Tenmi-Jyuraku Series has a carbon steel core but is surrounded by stainless steel so there is a big element to these knives that are stainless.  This type of construction means that only the carbon core is exposed at the edge (or about 5mm of it).  So it's basically the best of both worlds...stainless sides with an incredible super blue core.  As you said, there is a HUGE following of fanatics and rightly so too.  I know you know these knives very well but I just wanted to add a little to what you said so people weren't put off by the concept of a carbon steel knife.  BTW, if anyone is on the fence about carbon steel knives they are very easy to take care of.  Rock on!  :biggrin:

Good point on the Hiromoto AS. I should have mentioned that. Thanks for catching it.

As for Gingami (Ginsanko), I haven't tried the Hiromoto version personally, but I've owned knives with Gingami steel in the past. They sharpen fairly easily, hold up well and cut pretty well. No, they're not on par with carbon knives, but that's to be expected. As for how they stack up to the $50 Tojiro, that would be an interesting head-to-head comparison. I might just have to give that a try.

Chad

Edited by Chad, 18 July 2008 - 08:30 PM.

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#81 kitchenmage

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:13 AM

Chad, what a great thread. I hope you are still popping in to answer questions.

I am planning on upgrading my knives this winter - after I buy a copy of your book and do some other research. In the meantime, however, I hope you can help me with a current quandary. To put it bluntly, what's the deal with Santokus?

At the suggestion of a friend, I picked up an inexpensive santuko to try out the style before I sink real money into a new blade. What I ended up with is a Henckels like this from Linens, Socks and OverThere. Yep, I know, cheap as all get out. But this is a test and it will be replaced by a real blade if I like it.

But here's the deal. I don't like it. I want to like it. I feel like I should like it. But, so far, not so much. It rolls when I cut hard things, doesn't do anything impressive with soft stuff, and I can't mince herbs like with my old chef's knife. It's not bad on things like whole onions, but my old chef's knife handles those fine too. As someoneElse asked the other night, as he tried and discarded the Santoku for the nth time, "What's the point?" Sadly, I had no answer.

Yet I am sure there is one. Can you help me find it? (I feel like all my friends found some cool new drink and I got the non-alcoholic version. I want my Santoku-tini with full on buzz!)

One thought, the blade on this sucker has "micro-serrations" which I didn't notice (or know if it mattered) when I was being bedazzled by Sheets, Sh*t, and Somewhere's endless displays. Sometimes when I am cutting things, it feels like the serrations get caught and (maybe) defeat the purpose.

Can you help me shine a little light on what I am missing? Is there a Santoku technique primer somewhere? Do I need to go get a different (not micro-serrated) blade to play with? Should I go back to my regular knives and just figure it's not my trend? I didn't have a goal (slicing onions faster, for example) in mind when I bought it, it was more of a lark, so I won't feel bad if there is no there there. But I will stop pulling the stupid thing out every time I start prepping food to see if it works better this time.

Thanks!

Edited by kitchenmage, 22 July 2008 - 09:19 AM.


#82 stealw

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:22 AM

I'm no expert..But the knife link you provided seems like a pretty flimsy knife. Not to insult your choice in knives or anything. I have used some of my friend's santoku's chopping, cutting, mincing etc..it seems fine to me. Though then again they took good care of their knives (hand sharpened and everything).

Perhaps it is just that model you do not like. That's what happened to my other friend which used a cheap knife, then when used a 'better' knife, felt a difference.

On a side note...the top of henckle blades tend to be really annoying on your index knuckles when using it for a prolonged time. Very rigid/sharp, at least for my feel.

Jim

#83 slkinsey

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:54 AM

Chad, I wonder if you care to digress a bit on the santoku. In reading kitchenmage's post up there, I was reminded that hardly anyone I know really likes these knives to use -- not in Western cooking, anyway. Rather, most people who have one seem to like the way they [i]look[i/] and buy one on that basis.
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#84 kitchenmage

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:06 AM

I'm no expert..But the knife link you provided seems like a pretty flimsy knife. Not to insult your choice in knives or anything. I have used some of my friend's santoku's chopping, cutting, mincing etc..it seems fine to me. Though then again they took good care of their knives (hand sharpened and everything).

Perhaps it is just that model you do not like. That's what happened to my other friend which used a cheap knife, then when used a 'better' knife, felt a difference.

On a side note...the top of henckle blades tend to be really annoying on your index knuckles when using it for a prolonged time. Very rigid/sharp, at least for my feel.

Jim

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Jim,

I know it's a cheap knife, but I was sort of hoping it would give me a feel for the style before I spend real money. Most knives, even the cheap ones, are good fresh out of the package and this one has maybe 30 minutes of use on it. The knives I use all the time are sharpened by someoneElse with stones and things, and a Santoku I use would be, too. But this one hasn't made it that far.

It sounds like you have used a Santoku that you like. Care to share what?

#85 kitchenmage

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:07 AM

Chad, I wonder if you care to digress a bit on the santoku.  In reading kitchenmage's post up there, I was reminded that hardly anyone I know really likes these knives to use -- not in Western cooking, anyway.  Rather, most people who have one seem to like the way they [i]look[i/] and buy one on that basis.

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I think it may be the umbrella drink of knives.

#86 stealw

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 12:47 PM

KitchenMage- Well, currently I don't have a santoku yet, still trying to find one suitable. Or rather mustard up the cash to pay for one rather. Currently use a chef's knife, 8" (a shun). Though often times I do not find it necessary to have such a big blade for most of my needs. As well as some things that bother me sometimes, like the long handle.

Couple post's above, I mentioned three I was really looking at. Though perhaps would eventually get the Misono UX-10 knife (santoku). I just find it to be suitable to my needs, not really for look of it or anything. Plus, one benefit of santokus is the wideness of the blade, really helps with people that have larger hands/knuckles which often times bump into the cutting board.

Jim

#87 Chad

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 01:36 PM

Chad, what a great thread. I hope you are still popping in to answer questions.
<snippity doo dah>
But here's the deal. I don't like it. I want to like it. I feel like I should like it. But, so far, not so much. . . . As someoneElse asked the other night, as he tried and discarded the Santoku for the nth time, "What's the point?" Sadly, I had no answer....
Can you help me shine a little light on what I am missing? Is there a Santoku technique primer somewhere?

View Post

Chad, I wonder if you care to digress a bit on the santoku.  In reading kitchenmage's post up there, I was reminded that hardly anyone I know really likes these knives to use -- not in Western cooking, anyway.  Rather, most people who have one seem to like the way they look and buy one on that basis.

View Post

Thanks! Happy to keep answering questions for a bit. Sam, I hope you and kitchenmage don't mind me combining questions.

While the santoku is relatively new to western markets, the blade style itself has been around for a while. Wusthof (among others) may claim to have introduced the knife known as a santoku, but the Japanese wabocho has been around for centuries in a variety of very similar blade shapes.

In a culture that chops a lot of vegetables -- and has a much longer knife dedicated to proteins -- a short, wide blade like the santoku can make a lot of sense. In the Japanese kitchen, fish duty goes to the long, narrow yanagiba, a highly specialized knife* with a lot more reach than the santoku. In my opinion, both parts of that equation have to be true for the santoku/wabocho shape to be really useful. In tight quarters and small kitchens, the shorter blade can be an asset, and the width of the blade is great for smashing garlic and scooping your freshly cut veggies. Note the tall, squarish shape of the Chinese cleaver as an extreme example of the point I'm making.

In a western kitchen, however, we don't have the same level of specialization. And we eat a lot more meat. A longer knife generally works better. If your knife won't reach all the way across a pot roast, for example, dinner preparation becomes a lot more work than it should be. Most santokus don't pass that test. In my opinion they make great backup knives to a good chef's knife but rarely have the versatility to be the primary knife in your kitchen. A good chef's knife, or (even better) a good gyuto is a much effective and useful choice.

In short, I share your "meh" attitude. I gave away or sold all of the santokus I collected for the book. For a vegetarian, however, or someone who does a lot of Asian cooking, a santoku might be perfect. A nakiri or Chinese cleaver might be even more perfect.

Chad
*Please note, I'm generalizing like crazy here. I cannot capture the breadth of Asian cuisine, cooking styles, and cutlery history in a couple of paragraphs.

Edited by Chad, 22 July 2008 - 01:37 PM.

Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#88 JasonZ

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 02:09 PM

Hi Chad;

First, thank you ... for this wondeful book and Q&A and for the preceding course on sharpening. What little I know, I owe to you ...

Wonder if I could get a quick opinion. Most of my cooking is vegetarian and my knife collection is almost entirely Global, augmented with a Kyocera ceramic and a MAC Santoku. I don't have a Japanese style blade -- these are all Western style -- and I'm thinking of an usuba as my first ... looking on the Korin website (since they're having a 15% sale), I was thinking of the Masamoto Shiro-ko Hongasumi Kamagata Usuba (19.5 cm).

Since you've said the quality of modern machine-made knives, has improved so much, am I in a bad price range (around $300, so more than $100, where you defined basic quality as being excellent, but below $1,000, where one is getting a true work of art) for what will be the knife I am likely to make my mistakes on (eg, learning how to sharpen a Japanese style blade)? I am ordering the Korin DVD on sharpening, but is there a better choice for a first knife?

Regards,

JasonZ
JasonZ
Philadelphia, PA, USA and Sandwich, Kent, UK

#89 Chad

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 03:05 PM

Wonder if I could get a quick opinion. Most of my cooking is vegetarian and my knife collection is almost entirely Global, augmented with a Kyocera ceramic and a MAC Santoku. I don't have a Japanese style blade -- these are all Western style -- and I'm thinking of an usuba as my first ... looking on the Korin website (since they're having a 15% sale), I was thinking of the Masamoto Shiro-ko Hongasumi Kamagata Usuba (19.5 cm).

Since you've said the quality of modern machine-made knives, has improved so much, am I in a bad price range (around $300, so more than $100, where you defined basic quality as being excellent, but below $1,000, where one is getting a true work of art) for what will be the knife I am likely to make my mistakes on (eg, learning how to sharpen a Japanese style blade)? I am ordering the Korin DVD on sharpening, but is there a better choice for a first knife?

Regards,

JasonZ

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Jason, you don't mind jumping into the deep end, do you? :biggrin:

That Masamoto is very nice. Usubas are generally restaurant style knives. They have very thick spines and are single beveled (kataba), as you already know. The usuba is especially well suited for katsuramuki technique. Home cooks usually use a nakiri, which is thinner and is double beveled (ryoba).
Posted Image
In this image, the top knife is a Korin shiro-ko honkasumi usuba. The bottom knife is a Murray Carter SFGZ nakiri.

If the point is to learn to use and sharpen a Japanese single beveled knife, you might be going overboard with the Masamoto. The Korin branded honkasumi knives are made by Suisin, a highly respected knife manufacturer. The Korin shiro-ko honkasumi kamagata usuba in the same length will save you about $100. As you can tell from the photo, I had that model in the blunt-tipped style. I enjoyed it very much, but at 210mm it was a little too long. I think your choice of 195mm makes a lot more sense. Korin actually recommends their shiro-ko kasumi knives as an introduction to traditional Japanese knives. I don't know who makes this series for Korin, but the kamagata usuba is under $100. Note the lack of hon in the description. Kasumi is the style of forging and manufacture. Hon (true) generally indicates a higher quality level. So this would be Korin's bargain brand.
By the way, all of these knives are hand forged in the kasumi style rather than being machined.

Let us know how it turns out!
Chad

Edited by Chad, 22 July 2008 - 03:06 PM.

Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#90 Octaveman

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 03:11 PM

I too have a dislike for Santoku's. My first knife was a Santoku and I was even stupid enough to spend extra for the dimples. I sold it on Ebay shortly after buying my 2nd knife...a Gyuto. My main gripe is that they rarely get much longer than a petty knife. I prefer to have a longer knife like a gyuto where the most typical length bought is a 240mm or 9.5 inches. With the size of veggies getting to the proportions of those on the Woody Allen movie Sleeper, I'd rather have more knife than I might use on a regular basis. Then when the additional length is needed, I already have it.

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