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guppy
Sep 21, 2004

sting like a byob

Welcome to the new iteration of the kitchen knife thread!

Old thread is located here: The Kitchen Knife Thread

I don't have any kitchen knives. What knives should I get?

There are lots of specialty options and you can get really far down the rabbit hole, but if you are just starting out, the answer is to buy an affordable chef's knife and paring knife. The go-to options for these are the Victorinox 8" Chef's Knife ($30-35) and whatever paring knife you want. Victorinox also sells a 3.25" paring knife and it is perfectly fine if you aren't sure what to get. They are $6 and I own four of them.

You can 100% stop here. If you buy these knives and take care of them, you never need to buy another kitchen knife again. You can do at least 95% of kitchen tasks with a chef's knife and the paring knife will fill in the gaps. A cheap bread knife is a good choice for a third knife. Alternatively, you can do what most of us do and buy 30 more knives because knives are neat.

You do not have to buy those specific knives, even if a chef's knife and a paring knife is what you want. But if you come into this thread asking what knives to buy as a beginner, and you don't supply any more specific requirements, everyone will tell you to buy those, and also they will hate you.


I want more knives.

Okay. Broadly, you are choosing between Western-style knives and Japanese-style knives. There are also some weird outliers, including some popular ones like Chinese cleavers. Western knives are usually made from softer steel (which will both sharpen and dull more easily) and are more general-purpose; the standard Western chef's knife has a more rounded belly than its Japanese counterpart. Japanese knives are made from harder steel, meaning they are harder to sharpen but don't dull as easily. There are some other differences as well deriving from that harder steel; you'd want to be more careful about bones with a knife made of harder steel, for example. Here is some information on some of the kinds of knives available to you.

Primary knives
Chef's knife: Western-style knife, the main workhorse of a kitchen. Typically 8-10", you can do almost anything with one; I would venture to say 8" is the "standard" length. Longer ones can cut larger stuff more efficiently but may be harder to manage. There are 6" ones as well but they are the exception, not the rule. Rounded belly makes it suited for rock chopping.

Gyuto: The Japanese answer to the chef's knife. Similar lengths, usually expressed in mm rather than inches (210mm is the approximate equivalent to the 8" standard chef's knife). Flatter profile makes it less suited to rock chopping and more suited to push chopping.

Santoku: Popularized in the West by... Rachael Ray I think? Usually shorter than a chef's knife (6" is common), flat blade. You can do whatever with a santoku that you can with a chef's knife or gyuto. Because of the shorter length they can be easier to handle.

Note that these knives do essentially the same jobs, you don't need more than one of these three unless you just want them for funsies. It is also fine if you do want them and that's why. Personally I don't have any gyutos but I have a couple of chef's knives and a santoku.

Secondary knives
Paring knife: Small, comes in three different types (standard, sheep's foot, bird's beak). They each have reasons for existing but if you care about this then you probably already know which one you want. For detail work and working in hand.

Utility/petty knife: A kind of Goldilocks size between a paring knife and a chef's knife, for those times when a chef's knife seems too big and a paring knife seems too small. You don't need one, but they can be nice to have.

Slicer: For slicing meat, mostly. Very long blade to necessitate less back and forth sawing and therefore making cleaner cuts and nicer looking results.

Boning knife: For removing bones from bone-in meat.

Meat cleaver: Heavy enough to cut through bones, which is not good for your other knives. Not the same as a Chinese vegetable cleaver. You will damage your Chinese cleaver if you try to hack through bones with it.

Chinese cleaver: I mention this because they are popular in this thread; they are not very common in the West. They are for vegetable prep, and while they look comically large for the job, you can do very delicate work with them. The CCK Small Cleaver was the go-to recommendation for these when they were $30; now they are twice as much or more and I have no idea if there is a cheaper option that's any good.

Bread knife: For bread, and also for stuff with thick skins like tomatoes because of the serrations. You don't need to spend a lot on a bread knife. They are hard to sharpen and you will probably just replace it when that time comes.

There are a trillion Japanese knife types for specific purposes, like deba (for fish), nakiri (for vegetables), yanagiba (for sashimi), and so on. You can absolutely get these if you want but it's a lot to get into here.


What are some good knife brands?

Hoo boy, everyone has the ones they like. Victorinox and Tojiro (the DP line) are frequently recommended low-end options that offer good bang for the buck. I like Macs myself. I personally think Shuns are overpriced but they're not bad knives. Wusthof and Henckels make a lot of poo poo in their low-end lines and perfectly good knives on the higher end. Wusthof's Classic line is a good place to start in their range. One thing people recommend avoiding is knives with a bolster that runs into the back of the blade, because of the difficulty it presents in sharpening. There is a ton of bullshit in circulation about knives and you will sometimes see a Kickstarter or something similar about a revolution in knifemaking. These are lies. Do not buy them.


Knives evoke a cult-like kind of behavior for some reason. Try not to get too deep in the weeds about which knife is just right for you. They are just knives. You will be okay.


What about knife sets? Everyone I know registered for a knife set when they got married.

Knife sets usually have an awful lot of knives, and as you can see above, you really only need two. You can get one, but usually it's better to buy the specific knives you want; you'll spend less money and have nicer knives.


Where should I buy knives?

The real answer is in a store, where you can try it firsthand and see if you like the way it feels, the grip, etc. Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma have limited ranges but will let you try knives out there. In practice, a lot of us are interested in stuff that those stores don't carry and buy them online. This is okay, but you may find you hate the knife when you get it. Amazon sells knives; Chef Knives To Go is another reputable vendor, and they specialize in Japanese knives. There are others but those are the stores I've bought from personally.


How do I take care of my knives?

I'm glad you asked! Rule number one is don't put them in the dishwasher. Wash them promptly by hand after you are finished using them and dry them immediately. Not doing these will make your knives dull, rusty, broken, or some combination of those things. That's all you really have to do; it's nice to have an edge guard on them to keep the edges from dulling. Or from cutting you by accident. Victorinox Bladesafes are nice, and have apparently gotten cheaper; there are also some other (weirdly expensive!) options and even cheapo $0.50 cardboard sheaths).


What about cutting boards?

Your choices are plastic and wood. Do not buy glass or marble or whatever other cutting boards, they will dull your knives. There are lots of debates about which is more sanitary; it does not actually matter very much provided you take care of them properly. Wash them promptly with soap and water; plastic ones can go in a dishwasher if you want, wooden ones can't. Wooden boards need some special treatment like oiling occasionally. You may want to throw out and replace a plastic board after a few years.


About honing and sharpening

Once a year or so is a good frequency for a home cook to sharpen their knives, or have them sharpened. If you are a big time cooking enthusiast and use your knives more than most people, do it more often. Professionals will definitely do it more often. If you are going to sharpen your own knives, do not use a pull-through or electric sharpener, they are bad for your knives. I asked once at Sur La Table and they appear to use one of those, so I don't recommend getting your knives sharpened there; Williams-Sonoma is probably the same. I get my knives sharpened by an old guy in a truck at the farmer's market. When sharpening yourself, you can do it freehand or with a number of assistive tools.

The thing you do with the metal or ceramic rod is honing, not sharpening. You can do that every time before you use your knives. People usually recommend ceramic rods for Japanese knives because they are harder. Ceramic is also fine for Western knives. Ceramic ones will also break if you drop them. Here is a video on honing.


I am bad at using knives and have just cut off my thumb.

Technique matters, both for safety and efficiency. Here is a video that includes some tips like using a pinch grip and curling your fingers to use your knuckles as a guide and avoid cutting yourself. (It does not mention that you need to make sure your thumb isn't poking out. Do that.) Don't worry about speed at first, just focus on good technique. The speed will come with practice.

guppy fucked around with this message at Jan 12, 2018 around 11:16

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guppy
Sep 21, 2004

sting like a byob

Reserved

BrianBoitano
Nov 15, 2006

This is fine.


guppy posted:

Rule number one is don't put them in the dishwasher. Wash them promptly by hand after you are finished using them and dry them immediately. Not doing these will make your knives dull, rusty, broken, or some combination of those things.

Let's start the thread with . I use the dishwasher for our stainless knives which have resin handles, when my wife isn't looking

My dishwasher has two sheaths specifically for large chef's knives. Yours probably does too. The three dangers of dish washing:

1. Chipping / dulling when the knife rattles around & against other things in your washer. Sheath thingie prevents that.
2. Rust / patina on non-stainless knives
3. Wooden handles warping

Don't get me wrong, I hand wash 90% of the time because I'll need the knife sooner than I'll run the dishwasher.

Of course otoh our carbon steel knife gets the royal treatment.

Oldsrocket_27
Apr 28, 2009


I was under the impression that the dishwashing detergent itself is typically abrasive enough that even without banging around it still dulls the edge exceptionally quickly, so unless those sheathy thingies stops the edge from actually being washed, it's still pretty bad for them.

AVeryLargeRadish
Aug 19, 2011

WolfDad is Best Dad.


Oldsrocket_27 posted:

I was under the impression that the dishwashing detergent itself is typically abrasive enough that even without banging around it still dulls the edge exceptionally quickly, so unless those sheathy thingies stops the edge from actually being washed, it's still pretty bad for them.

Correct.

wormil
Sep 12, 2002

Hulk will smoke you!

Yep, that's why plastic containers turn whitish or foggy looking over time, thousands of micro-scratches from detergent.

BrianBoitano
Nov 15, 2006

This is fine.


Well I'm glad I said something. That makes sense.

And yeah if the sheath thing protected the blade it also wouldn't clean it.

Chef De Cuisinart
Oct 31, 2010

Brandy does in fact, in my experience, contribute to Getting Down.

The Dexter/JBL/Victorinox/etc Chinese veg cleavers are all perfectly fine for the home or pro cook and run from $8 to $40.

SubG
Aug 19, 2004

It's a hard world for little things.


It is worth repeating that the huge increase in the price of CCK cleavers is actually a huge increase in the price of CCK cleavers from ck2g. Since they seem to be the only English-friendly place to buy them online it gets treated as if the CCK small slicer (or whatever) price went up to like three times what it used to be. But you can call up CCK in Hong Kong and they'll tell you that they're still selling them for around HK$300 or whatever, which is around US$40. If you go to your local Chinatown you can probably find them for cheaper than online.

If you need to buy online and are price sensitive then just buy a Shibazi or something like that. They're about equivalent quality-wise, and you can get a Shibazi veg cleaver for around US$20 off a random merchant on aliexpress or wherever any day of the week. About the only caveat I'd add is that terminology is...inconsistent in mechanically-translated cleaver listings and there are a couple potential gotchas. Like the CCK KF130x cleavers---the small slicers---are the standard recommendation and what is generally meant on English-speaking forums when the term `Chinese cleaver' is used. But the most commonly-used Chinese veg cleavers in the Chinese-speaking world are more like the CCK KF190x series---菜刀/caidao versus 桑刀/sangdao or 片刀/piandao.

I guess I could type out a bunch of spergy poo poo on buying Chinese cleavers online for people who don't actually speak Chinese if anyone's interested.

TITTIEKISSER69
Mar 19, 2005

I'm here to kiss tittiess and win football games!


Pillbug

Couldn't hurt to share the knowledge, as well as reinforce that veg cleavers shouldn't be used for bones.

Jerome Louis
Nov 5, 2002
p

College Slice

How long did it take to learn to sharpen a knife by hand using stones? I got the Kramer/Zwilling sharpening set and have been practicing with some crappy knives but I still feel like my angle is uneven. I'll keep working on it but just wanted to get an idea of how long it took some people to get good at it.

wormil
Sep 12, 2002

Hulk will smoke you!

Anyone used the Spyderco santoku?

BrianBoitano
Nov 15, 2006

This is fine.


Jerome Louis posted:

How long did it take to learn to sharpen a knife by hand using stones? I got the Kramer/Zwilling sharpening set and have been practicing with some crappy knives but I still feel like my angle is uneven. I'll keep working on it but just wanted to get an idea of how long it took some people to get good at it.

Not long. I use the same stone. If your angle is too high you'll know it immediately when your knife digs in. If your angle is too low your paper cut test won't be improving. Try to approach the point of too steep and you'll quickly learn the sweet spot angle after going too far a couple of times. Clean up the gouges in the stone with the brick looking block that has diagonal cuts in it.

I sometimes use a pencil to color the entire edge so I know I've been consistent. When the pencil mark is completely gone, you're done with one pass at least.

KingColliwog
May 15, 2003

Let's go droogs

Jerome Louis posted:

How long did it take to learn to sharpen a knife by hand using stones? I got the Kramer/Zwilling sharpening set and have been practicing with some crappy knives but I still feel like my angle is uneven. I'll keep working on it but just wanted to get an idea of how long it took some people to get good at it.

I'm doing only an ok job, but I found it was much easier than I thought it would be. I wouldn't win any sharpness competition because I don't have enough stone and my technique probably needs some work, but I still have the sharpest knife out of anyone I know (by far).

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

Guys you might as well stop buying knives because I've discovered a better cutting instrument that will make knives obsolete

//vimeo.com/248529965

Steve Yun fucked around with this message at Jan 14, 2018 around 04:45

Ranter
Jul 11, 2004



That grossed me out more than it should have.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Oldsrocket_27 posted:

I was under the impression that the dishwashing detergent itself is typically abrasive enough that even without banging around it still dulls the edge exceptionally quickly, so unless those sheathy thingies stops the edge from actually being washed, it's still pretty bad for them.

I sort of suspected this, but didn't ever consciously make an effort to research or find out about it. thanks for learning the thread one.

twotimer
Jul 19, 2013



what the hell kind of detergent are you guys using thats abrasive?
pretty much every kitchen i have worked in uses a caustic solution in the dishwasher that isnt abrasive in the slightest. granted, its not something i would use on my knife (it doubles as grill stripper), but its not abrasive.

glynnenstein
Feb 18, 2014



twotimer posted:

what the hell kind of detergent are you guys using thats abrasive?
pretty much every kitchen i have worked in uses a caustic solution in the dishwasher that isnt abrasive in the slightest. granted, its not something i would use on my knife (it doubles as grill stripper), but its not abrasive.

Pretty much every automatic dishwasher detergent for home use is abrasive.

twotimer
Jul 19, 2013



glynnenstein posted:

Pretty much every automatic dishwasher detergent for home use is abrasive.

ah. of course! i have never had a dishwasher at home, so i didnt even think of that.

KingColliwog
May 15, 2003

Let's go droogs

I don't plan on putting my knives in the dishwasher, but are new detergents based on enzymes still abrasives? The plastic becoming white thing is a good example of something that doesn't seem to happen with newer dishwasher/detergent

glynnenstein
Feb 18, 2014



I don't know for sure. The gels are supposed to be better than powder or the delicious little packs, though. I go ahead and put my victorinox in the washer; it sometimes noticeably dulls them, but I have a set of waterstones and it's kinda an excuse to practice with them more.

Chef De Cuisinart
Oct 31, 2010

Brandy does in fact, in my experience, contribute to Getting Down.

Is it that loving hard to rinse and wipe your knives? Serious loving question.

I wouldn't even put my $6.95 cleaver in the dishwasher because dishwashers are for loving dishes, not knives. Knives aren't dishes, stop asking about it.

Casu Marzu
Oct 20, 2008



loving dishes in that small of a space seems unwieldy. Also idk if I'd ever condone loving knives. Seems ripe for a major incident.

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYbJnAyYIFY#t=46s

Has anyone seen this ridiculous double-sided chinese cleaver? Where does one get one like it?

No Wave
Sep 18, 2005

Yogg-Saron fan #1


I'd recommend noting not to buy bamboo (or teak) cutting boards. Most classic knife trap.

Submarine Sandpaper
May 27, 2007

ASK ME ABOUT HOW I GHOULISHLY CELEBRATE THE DEATH OF CHILDREN TO TEACH THEIR PARENTS "A LESSON"


Steve Yun posted:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYbJnAyYIFY#t=46s

Has anyone seen this ridiculous double-sided chinese cleaver? Where does one get one like it?

it's not double edged, doubt there'll ever be one until guy fery goes to china.

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

I still want it just because of how ridiculous it looks. It looks like a flat sheet of steel had one side rolled into a handle

BrianBoitano
Nov 15, 2006

This is fine.


No Wave posted:

I'd recommend noting not to buy bamboo (or teak) cutting boards. Most classic knife trap.

Just overpriced or also bad? I got an edge grain teak this Christmas.

Submarine Sandpaper
May 27, 2007

ASK ME ABOUT HOW I GHOULISHLY CELEBRATE THE DEATH OF CHILDREN TO TEACH THEIR PARENTS "A LESSON"


They're both harder woods. Edge grain helps a bit with that.

AVeryLargeRadish
Aug 19, 2011

WolfDad is Best Dad.


BrianBoitano posted:

Just overpriced or also bad? I got an edge grain teak this Christmas.

Teak is really hard on knives because it grows in sandy soil and has very high silica content, sometimes it even picks up small pebbles or grains of sand and grows around them which can chip your knife.

No Wave
Sep 18, 2005

Yogg-Saron fan #1


There's a lot of anecdotal evidence around about teak and bamboo dulling knives. No one's done a very rigorous test because who would. I'd avoid buying it but if you own one idk what the right move is. Both are really appealing otherwise because of weight/looks.

It does seem to be acknowledged that cutting through bamboo/teak dulls cutting equipment.

SubG
Aug 19, 2004

It's a hard world for little things.


Steve Yun posted:

I still want it just because of how ridiculous it looks. It looks like a flat sheet of steel had one side rolled into a handle
If you're talking about the fact that it has the tang in the middle of the heel instead of alongside the spine, that used to be a fairly common design, specifically in butcher's cleavers (around the world, not just in China). Here's a random Beatty & Son cleaver (made around 1800 in Pennsylvania) from an eBay listing (not mine):

wormil
Sep 12, 2002

Hulk will smoke you!


I cast this to the Roku and the rest of our day was shot.

Chef De Cuisinart
Oct 31, 2010

Brandy does in fact, in my experience, contribute to Getting Down.

Casu Marzu posted:

loving dishes in that small of a space seems unwieldy. Also idk if I'd ever condone loving knives. Seems ripe for a major incident.

I'm sure if you look on LiveLeak....

The Slack Lagoon
Jun 17, 2008



I bought an empty knife block 4 years ago and now every slot is filled with something useful and sharp.

That being said, I have 3 regular pairing knives and one birds beak pairing knife.

When living with room mates I used to have to sharpen the knives every few months because they were rough on the knives. Now that it's just my wife and I using them I haven't had to sharpen them in 8 months, just regular honing

Steve Yun
Aug 7, 2003

I
ANALYZE
CARTOONS


Soiled Meat

It's nice to have a steel mill nearby. I had a 9.5 inch chinese cleaver and now I have a 7.5 inch one. $5 and ten seconds of work!



Should I put wood oil on the handle or not bother

AnonSpore
Jan 19, 2012

Bear Witness

Just got a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card and I was just thinking I wanted a boning knife, is there a good choice there for something that falls at/below the 50 dollar (after gift card) point? Or rather, one I should definitely avoid?

Chemmy
Feb 4, 2001



AnonSpore posted:

Just got a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card and I was just thinking I wanted a boning knife, is there a good choice there for something that falls at/below the 50 dollar (after gift card) point? Or rather, one I should definitely avoid?

They sell Victorinox fibrox boning knives there. Get one of those.

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Wroughtirony
May 14, 2007





If you use a magnetic knife rack, try to find one that has a non-metal surface. This one was custom made for me by a friend. You can make your own with about $25 worth of magnets and a drill press. The reason you don't want metal is because it's easy to chip a blade if you stick it on carelessly. Always make sure to put the spine of the knife down first and then lay the blade down.

These are some of the knives I use the most. From left to right:

Ken Onion Shun. Basically an expensive French chef knife with an ergonomic handle. I bought this for myself because it stays insanely sharp and feels amazing in my hand. It's a luxury item I enjoy, not a necessity. I use it pretty much just for veg prep.

8" Messermeister chef knife: This is my workhorse. It's nice enough to be nice, but not so precious I'm afraid to use it to whack an avocado pit. It's from the knife kit I got in culinary school and is your basic Whustoff clone. The German steel is a little soft, so it needs sharpening fairly often even compared to the stamped Victorinox knives. It's a great, classic knife. It's a bit heavy, so it's not ideally suited to doing mountains of prep.

12" slicer: For the big meat. If you don't do big meat, you don't need this knife.

Cheap-rear end offset serrated: For bread, and random situations where it seems like the best tool for the job. Personally, I think if your serrated is necessary to slice tomatoes, that means you should sharpen your chef knife. I know a few pro cooks who use this knife for literally everything, though. Depends on your style.

Utility knife: This is my chicken knife. I use it to break down whole chickens because I can't find a breaking knife as amazing as the one at this restaurant I used to work at. I don't use this knife for anything else.

Not pictured:

half a dozen Victorinox paring knives in straight and serrated: I loving love these things. They show up razor sharp, they cost six bucks. Great for deveining shrimp

poo poo Knife: $12 SaniSafe 8" chef knife with an obnoxious american flag patterned handle. I bring this with me to potlucks, or to work someplace people are likely to touch my stuff. It's the knife I let other people use if they're at my house (except Dino. Dino gets to use whatever he wants.) It's not a bad knife or a dull knife, it's just a knife I wouldn't be heartbroken to see abused or stolen.

bird's beak paring knife: Concave curved blade. Useful in baking, or if you are the sort of person who cuts things without a cutting board now and then. I let the point get a bit dull but keep the blade sharp. This is a real personal choice knife. I know a few other cooks who love theirs, but most people find them totally useless.


Cutting boards:

Bamboo is awful, as No Wave mentioned. The reason I hate it, beyond possibly dulling knives, is that it picks up stains like nothing else. My mother in law was going on and on about how pretty and environmentally friendly they were and I made the mistake of saying "yeah, sure, they're nice." Now I have a whole set. They're awful.


tl;dr: If you are buying your first knives, get the Victorinox chef knife and paring knife, then add to your collection as you see a need.

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