Life by Chocolate

Chocolate, white, milk, dark, in all its forms forms life. Chocolate truffles, caramels, and other confections are at the core of enjoyment. This is life by chocolate because death by chocolate is the wrong attitude.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Some musings on knives (for the kitchen)

I have a hodgepodge of knives that I've collected over many years of cooking. Some of them aren't even my knives but my wife's knives. Some of them are cheap pieces of steal that were quickly stamped out and are almost impossible to keep sharp. And some of them are jewels but all of them get used here at the Greenville Arms.

It isn't necessary to go out and get a full set of some celebrity "chef" branded, hard to sharpen knives with special blood groves and racing stripes to cook. Most of those knives are junk and more money is spent on marketing than steel.

All you have to do is get one good knife that is long enough to be a chef knife. What does long enough mean? It means that you have to be comfortable using it and it isn't a sandwich or paring knife. I've had assistants, petite women, who liked my 6 inch Wüsthof utility knife and used that as their primary blade. (Though most chef's will tell you, the longer the better.) If you are going to get fancy, get a paring knife. If you are going to do a lot of chopping, get a Chinese or Japanese vegetable cleaver. Oh and definitely get a Cusinart or a Robo Coupe.

If I had to take one knife with me to a deserted island, I would take the Japanese knife Murray Carter made for me out of blue steel, his recommendation. (Pictured above.) It is a forged blade of blue steal with a cocobolo handle that I can hone to scary sharpness using my two water stones and will hold its edge for a long time. It's not long enough to be a kodachi, a short sword, but not by much. So not only could I cut and prepare any food I want with this knife, I could also defend myself on that deserted island. This is the knife I use more than any other knife.

Murray is a 17th-generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith and certified Master Bladesmith. He made my Chef's knife to my specifications, length, handle etc. His wife made the sheath. Thank you Murray.

I also have a few specialty knives that I love to use. (Now, take a deep breath because I am about to scare, disappoint and shock some of you reading this blog.) One is a serrated pie server from Cutco knives. It makes cutting and serving pies easy. When I was prepping a lot of salmon, I also fell in love with Cutco's salmon knives.

Don't poo-poo Cutco. They're stamped knives and you can send them back for sharpening anytime you want. I'm not recommending you buy any Cutco knives. But even notoriously bad knives have a purpose in life and can be a great benefit if properly used. I don't normally like specialty, one purpose equipment in my kitchen but sometimes you need that level of specificity.

I have a great bread knife that I got in Carmel California. I have a Wüsthof bird's beak pairing knife that is hard to sharpen. I also have a stamped Forschner cimeter, one very long knife, fourteen inches, that I like to use for butchering. And as I said, I have some Sam's specials that are terrible. They are stamped steal with plastic handles and are the first thing I grab when I want to chop nuts or chocolate.

As I said, I'm not recommending any one brand of knife here but If I were to recommend one knife, I'd recommend getting a great forged blade. I've confiscated a set of forged Wüsthof paring, carving and utility knives from my wife. I can keep them very sharp indeed.

Sure, I would love a full set of Damascus steel knives from Murray Carter and one day I'll buy that set. But in the meantime, I'll be using my eclectic set of knives that I have gathered over 35 years of cooking.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! Thank you for your experienced insight. It's also important to get knives that are comfortable when you use them. Who wants to invest in something that's not comfortable? I got a set of Cutco a while ago while I was a sales rep, and to me, they fit my hands nicely. Like you mentioned, they also come with a forever guarantee. Gotta love supporting American made products. Thanks again, Mark.

September 23, 2010 at 2:06 AM  
Blogger Mark by Chocolate said...

Sure. I always support American made products. Murray's knives, superior to Cutco or any other knife I've owned, are American made.

I would never buy a Cutco knife as a chef's knife. Nor would I buy a Rachael Ray knife. However, as I said, I do like my pie server. In general, stamped knives are cheap and they are usually sharp when purchased but they also do not hold an edge. Plus, I don't like serrated knives at all because they are impossible to sharpen.

But I do like my pie server and I like my salmon knife. However, I'm not doing as much salmon this year and that knife is not good for anything else. I also have a Cutco boning knife but I like my other boning knife better.

September 23, 2010 at 7:42 PM  

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