Friday, November 11, 2011

Culinary Musings, Kitchen Knives

I love a good sharp knife.  Hopefully I don't sound too psychotic here, but knives are a big part of what I do.  Just ask any of my friends at Northwest Cutlery off of Lake in Chi-town.  They'll tell you the extent of my obsession, although they only see a slice of it (pun intended).

I'm a big fan of Globals.  Japanese craftsmanship, western design influences.  And while they can be pricey, they still don't get anywhere near as expensive as some of the other professional brands.  In other words, I won't usually go into psycho chef rage if one goes missing or damaged.  Their home site is  I've bought the same 30 cm. chef's knife from them four times (don't ask why, it still hurts inside).  Usually runs about $135 or so after professional discounts.

Messermeister bought out Suncraft knives and these have been awesome to have the last few years.  The bamboo handled "Mu" knife kicks ass, and their paring knife is the best I've ever owned.  Hands down.

Mac knives deserve a mention as being cheap and lightweight, but I find they dent and rust easily.  So if someone borrows one, beware.

Forschners seem to come with any culinary school kit.  They don't keep their edge long, but sharpen easily and are the cheapest, useful knives I currently know of.  They're awesome boning knives have usually been a well respected part of my kit.

Wustoffs and Henckels are great for having a knife to bash around a bit.  Their chef knives are great lobster killers since they don't tip out easily.

I do not like Shun Knives.  Expensive, with shitty handles.  Feels like I'm holding an egg instead of a knife.  Whatever they claim, they are not ergonomic.  Once you get as expensive as Shun, or worse, you better be prepared for theft, denting, and any matter of kitchen hijinks that could cause you to have a heart attack.  Buyer beware.

I used to work for a butcher in Arizona at the resort.  He was old school, worked two jobs up until he retired, and did all the butchery for the property in three days of the week.  He was fast.  He also showed me how to take care of my knives, and sold me a pair after he showed me how to use the whetstone.  Every morning he sharpened his knives on the tristone and he never used a kitchen knife to open boxes or plastic.  For that he used a box cutter. 

"No sense dulling your blade on anything but meat."


As for using a whetstone, the trick is getting your wrist to align at the proper angle. 18 to 20 degrees for a European style knife, and slightly sharper an angle for the eastern designed.  If you use a stone, remember that once you use oil on it, you always have to continue using oil.  If you start with water instead, no worries.  That's what I do so I don't have to carry around mineral oil.  If you know me, I can demo and sharpen your knives if you can catch me.  It's fun and fast.

Remember, if you do hurt yourself, a clean sharp knife will always leave an easier healing wound.  When a knife is dull, you're adding blunt trauma to the laceration.  So you're going to bruise and heal slower.  That sucks.

That's it for now.  I'm sure I'll post some more knife related stories in the future.

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