Author Topic: Knives  (Read 3224 times)

Offline bluefoxicy

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Knives
« on: April 07, 2011, 11:12:54 AM »
Well I'm trying to save money on food, someone mentioned less meat (...) but I don't know how to cook well anyway so... maybe, I guess, I should start making salad or something.  And fajitas.  In general cutting up lots of vegetables, since it's less catastrophic (and expensive) than chopping up lots of meat and doing lots of butchery.

I have no knife skills.

So I guess I should learn some, and practice on cheap stuff like vegetables.  Need some knives though.







I intend to keep the knife wrapped in a towel for now, but buy the block (it's expensive and I don't want to run-away spend) soon, as well as a ProTeak 16x12 2 inch thick Teakwood (end grain, because plank isn't available) cutting board (which I'll plane 1/8 inch off every time it gets too damaged).

VG-10 molybdenum-vanadium stainless high carbon steel core with high-quality stainless steel plating (not up to the blade edge, which is exposed VG-10), hand-forged and hammered; blade length varies slightly by about 1/4 inch.  The blade is extremely hard and will hold an edge for a LONG time, but sharpening it is difficult (Shun sharpens them for the cost of shipping, and also sells sharpening kits that look strangely like a wooden plank and my straight razor hones...).  Because of the molybdenum, the steel lattice matrix is extremely stable and iron will not migrate out to oxidize, so the stuff doesn't rust; the stainless coating is for body bulk (the entire core to the spine is VG-10 for structure) without the expense of even more high-end hand-forged molybdenum-vanadium.

I am not Martin Yan, I do not need the Chinese Chef's Knife:



But do note the block:


Offline denny

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Re: Knives
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2011, 11:18:04 AM »
America's test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated chose the Forschner/Victorinox Fibrox 8" chef's knife as their best buy and use it in their kitchens.  I have one and it's an incredible knife.  Razor sharp and takes an edge easily.  In addition, it's under $30.  You don't need to spend a fortune to get a great knife.
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Offline Bret

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Re: Knives
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2011, 11:19:40 AM »
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Knives
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2011, 11:21:12 AM »
That reminds me: we get our kid from Solingen germany this sunday.  usually get some new knife when they come. 
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Offline tumarkin

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Re: Knives
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2011, 11:30:14 AM »
I've got a set of shun knives, with the block. got 'em on woot at a killer price about a year ago. love 'em. great tools.... but as Denny said, you can get good knives without spending a fortune. I never would have gotten them except for a deal like woot.
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Offline punatic

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Re: Knives
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2011, 12:02:23 PM »
That reminds me: we get our kid from Solingen germany this sunday.  usually get some new knife when they come.  

I bought a Puma pocket knife when I was in Solingen 30 years ago.  Best stainless going comes from there IMHO.  That knife is still in my pocket.  I feel incomplete if I leave home without it.  (I get the shakes when I have to put it in my checked baggage).

I bought my wife a set of Wusthof kitchen knives (ala cart - not a preassembled set) our first Christmas together in 1997.  An artist needs the right tools.  An excellent investment if you can afford it.  They last a lifetime (or two).

Lots of good online tutorials on how to use cooking knives.  Save your money for buying knives, not buying classes.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 12:10:52 PM by punatic »
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Offline bluefoxicy

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Re: Knives
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2011, 12:05:54 PM »
America's test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated chose the Forschner/Victorinox Fibrox 8" chef's knife as their best buy and use it in their kitchens.  I have one and it's an incredible knife.  Razor sharp and takes an edge easily.  In addition, it's under $30.  You don't need to spend a fortune to get a great knife.

Victrinox is the swiss army knife company.

That said, they do make some fine things; but you can't compare these kinds of things.  I would recommend a Victrinox to one of my friends (who actually really likes to cook, a lot):  he is poor, he can maintain and sharpen his own blades (this is a skill he is quite familiar with), and Victrinox knives are excellent value.  They are not the crappiest, cheapest garbage you can get for the price; they are actually well-made, although they are not forged steel, not VG-10 molybdenum-vanadium, not hand-made hand-hammered etc etc etc.  They're mass-produced, but not crap like Ginnsu knives.

It's in a different class, though.  This is a one-time buy, and one of the bigger influences is the actual shape of the santoku; the rest is icing.  I won't buy a (more expensive, probably better made/engineered) Shun Fusion for that reason.  A friend has those, they are excellent knives, but I'm disinterested.  He got the $1000 set for $500ish on Woot.

For reference, this is the current Santoku I use:



I dislike the overall shape (notice the blade is flatly parallel with the handle).  It is also a rather crappy knife, and the blade is both not-sharp and flimsy like paper or foil.  Even straight razors with a razor edge do not feel flimsy; the edge is very much delicate, but it has bite and it has stiffness to it.

You can compare these to Wusthof knives, forged steel in the higher lines, which you can get for around $100.  You can compare the Victrinox to a Wusthof around the $30-$50 range, stamped steel, also excellent quality.  Again, not arguing against the Victrinox as a knife:  I know a lot of hard-core cooks that buy those, and a lot in those circles with $150-$300 Wusthof and Shun and Henckles knives that give a nod to the quality of those knives.  You will get shouted down for trying to compare the chef's knife in a $40 Ginnsu set to a $100 Wusthof, and edged towards some Victrinox or such for a bargain-price chef's knife under $50.

I just want a very nice knife.  But more importantly, I want the skills to use the damn thing, hence the book.  My expectation is of a one-time purchase:  I buy this thing one time and maybe in 20 years I need a new one.  This is also why I have a $100 Hangiri, and that's just a small piece of wood (if I lost/destroyed it somehow, I would buy again!  Fantastic difference in the quality of my rice).  The tools are, otherwise, rather meaningless, amounting to only aesthetics and fitness for purpose.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 12:10:26 PM by bluefoxicy »

Offline bluesman

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Re: Knives
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2011, 12:15:52 PM »
The one thing that I've learned about knives over the years is that good knife sharpening skills are paramount to the quality and performance of any kitchen knife. The best stainless in the world will wear with use and require sharpening over time and poor sharpening skills will only lead to poor performance from the knife.

http://www.knifedealsplus.com/sharpeners.html
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Knives
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2011, 12:19:59 PM »
I love my Wusthofs.  Though Denny is correct that you can get knives of comparable balance and performance for less.  Cooks Illustrated is an awesome resource for the kitchen.

While one does not need the most expensive tool to cook well, IMO one cannot cook well with bad knives. Flimsy, dull, dangerous.  For this reason, I bought the MIL a set of Wusthofs.  I should go over and throw out her old knives to be sure no one will ever use them again.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 12:28:34 PM by Joe Dunne »
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Offline bluefoxicy

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Re: Knives
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2011, 12:49:10 PM »

While one does not need the most expensive tool to cook well, IMO one cannot cook well with bad knives.

People tell me a good carpenter never blames his tools.  I tell them a good hammer is a good hammer; if the head keeps falling off or the handle is cracked in half and acts like a shock absorber, an excellent carpenter will not be able to hammer a nail in very well with it.

I may recommend those victorinox knives to my parents, actually... they habitually go for $10 knife sets, and have never had good knives.  I like my high-end stuff, of course, but I know how it works.  Then again, I don't think they have the intelligence to maintain them:  these are people that will go, "What, sharpening steel on the blade once a week?  That's totally unnecessary.  These knives suck and they're totally dull btw."  Then they'll buy a V sharpener and destroy the blade on the knife (I am not skilled at knife sharpening, but I know how to properly sharpen things; I need practice, maybe I'll buy a Victorinox one day to practice...).

Seriously, that's my parents.  Dad doesn't change anything in a car until the car dies; filters, transmission fluid, plugs, you know when it's bad because the car stops running (although trans fluid NEVER gets changed, it's just not necessary).  They buy the cheapest crap because it's "just as good."  I'm heavily into learning to use and maintain things properly and I aim for middle price points, because I want something extremely nice and I don't have a million dollar a year salary to be buying all these luxury things every other day.

A good carpenter doesn't use a screwdriver as a prybar.  It's a good screwdriver, and once the shaft is no longer straight it's not a good screwdriver anymore!  Besides, a prybar works better.

Offline Bret

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Re: Knives
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2011, 12:52:29 PM »
The difference between cheap and value.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Knives
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2011, 01:06:49 PM »
People tell me a good carpenter never blames his tools.

Because a good carpenter has the right tools, of course.

Seriously, her knives were bending and the blade was slipping when I tried to dice an onion.

There's frugal and then there's dangerous.

A cut from a dull blade is a nasty thing.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Knives
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2011, 01:43:45 PM »
I'm a bit of a knife enthusiast because I love to cook (if I could go back in time I'd go to chef shool instead of into agriculture).  I say pick whatever style works best for you but mid-grade is probably best for most people.  Really cheap is really cheap for a reason.  MAC makes some excellent knives and I've been meaning to get some.  I do 98% of my cooking with a $30 santuko or a $130 Henkel.  I prefer the $30 knife.

Rather than a block, I'd suggest looking into a magnetic strip.  They keep the knives sharp, accessible and best of all you can see the whole knife and you're not grabbing the bread knife when you really want the chef's knife (not the end of the world and if you can keep them all straight good for you).  Just twist the knife away from the magnet so that the spine of the knife leaves last and you're golden.

I'd also suggest a Laskey sharpener.  It uses a guide to hold the angle properly and has 3 grades of stone for sharpening.  I can do my 8" chef's knife in about 5 minutes.  Remember, a steel does not sharpen a knife, it merely re-aligns the edge so that it cuts properly (unless you do it wrong and then it just makes things worse).  I love my Laskey kit and use it for pocket knives, cooking knives, fishing knives and everything I can.  But, be careful!  I can make the blade razor sharp in no time and I've sharpened knives for at least 3 guys that have used them wrong and cut themselves, one pretty badly.  

Lastly, buy a bag of potatoes and go nuts.  Practice is what everyone needs
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 01:49:25 PM by gmac »

Offline bluefoxicy

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Re: Knives
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2011, 01:54:38 PM »
Rather than a block, I'd suggest looking into a magnetic strip.  They keep the knives sharp, accessible and best of all you can see the whole knife and you're not grabbing the bread knife when you really want the chef's knife.

VG-10 is stainless super-hard molybdenum-vanadium; but still, I prefer blocks as they act as a desiccant and draw moisture away.  The Shun block holds knives horizontally to not rest pressure anywhere on the blade edge, but yeah, I know.  You will inevitably shift the knife and bump it against the wood/bamboo/etc.  Blocks are also more compact.

Quote from: gmac
I'd also suggest a Laskey sharpener.  It uses a guide to hold the angle properly and has 3 grades of stone for sharpening.

I need a 16 degree angle (total cutting edge angle is 32 degrees).  The angles on most Western knives are different, much thicker bevel, I want to say 30 degrees (60 degree total cutting angle) but I really don't remember...  Straight razors of course have about a 12.5 degree bevel IIRC.



This is of course ridiculous.  Here you're expected to hold the knife parallel to the table and glide it evenly in motion at a 16 degree angle... rather than having a protractor guide that sets the initial 16 degree angle and you glide the knife horizontally.  More spatial visualization is needed to pull this off.

Offline denny

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Re: Knives
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2011, 02:01:34 PM »

Victrinox is the swiss army knife company.

Well, duh...yes, I know that.

It's not like I haven't used much more expensive knives with fancy features.  But this is the knife that I prefer over all of those.  If you've tried it and made your opinion, great.  If you haven't, don't be over impressed by a lot of crap that doesn't mean jack to how the knife performs.  I was so impressed by the Forschner chef's knife that I went back to buy their 3 1/2 paring knife, also recommended by Cook's.  When I told the guy at the knife shop I wanted the Forschner, he said "Yeah, you and every chef in town.  I sell the more expensive knives because people ask for them, but Forschner is what I use.  So do all the pros."  That was good enough for me.  Whether it's good enough for you is up to you.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 02:25:01 PM by denny »
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