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What knives to buy?

What knives to buy?

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Old Mar 14, 11, 3:25 pm
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What knives to buy?

Time to upgrade some of my equipment. I'm no more than an intermediate level cook so I don't want to spend a fortune, but I do need to get some new, decent knives for the kitchen.

* What brands would you recommend (again, not GBP100+ uber-fashionable Japanese knives, something a little more practical)?
* What types are your must haves?

Thanks!

PS I'd prefer something I can buy in the UK but I will be in the US later this year so could easily wait to get something special.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 4:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Time to upgrade some of my equipment. I'm no more than an intermediate level cook so I don't want to spend a fortune, but I do need to get some new, decent knives for the kitchen.

* What brands would you recommend (again, not GBP100+ uber-fashionable Japanese knives, something a little more practical)?
* What types are your must haves?

Thanks!

PS I'd prefer something I can buy in the UK but I will be in the US later this year so could easily wait to get something special.
SH, I have a set of Henckels Four Star knives which I think are perfect for the intermediate chef. They are no longer my primary set, but I find myself going back to my original set often as they are comfortable and familiar.

As a minimum, I would advise a set that includes:

A pairing knife
A small knife with a serrated blade (often called a utility knife)
A boning knife
A large Chef's knife

Others will have their own views and the most obvious omission is a long bladed kitchen knife. I have little use for one as I find a utility knife or a Chef's knife will do the job.

Most sets will come with a steel must I would advise buying a wet stone to keep your knives really sharp. Lakeland sell a three stage wet stone set with grooves to ensure that your knives hit the stone at exactly the right angle.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 4:52 pm
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Hi,

I also use Henkels Four Star among others .... but now mostly use a Kyocera ceramic knife as the chefs knife around 8 inches or so. It has to be kept carefully or it'll break but it is very sharp and keeps it's edge. It can only be used for slicing not for say jointing or cutting through bone.

I'd also say a paring knife
Kyocera FK Series - Carbon Infused Ceramic Blades 18cm - can be used for meat or tomatos!
A cheap but long bread knife
Henkels Chefs knife
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Old Mar 14, 11, 5:06 pm
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I'll let celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain take it from here - this is from his book, Kitchen Confidential (it's one of the excerpts on amazon.com):

You need, for God's sake, a decent chef's knife. No con foisted on the general public is so atrocious, so wrongheaded, or so widely believed as the one that tells you you need a full set of specialized cutlery in various sizes. I wish sometimes I could go through the kitchens of amateur cooks everywhere just throwing knives out from their drawers - all those medium-size 'utility' knives, those useless serrated things you see advertised on TV, all that hard-to-sharpen stainless-steel garbage, those ineptly designed slicers - not one of the damn things could cut a tomato. Please believe me, here's all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chef's knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand. Brand name? Okay, most talented amateurs get a boner buying one of the old-school professional high-carbon stainless knives from Germany or Austria, like a Henkel or Wusthof, and those are fine knives, if heavy. High carbon makes them slightly easier to sharpe! n, and stainless keeps them from getting stained and corroded. They look awfully good in the knife case at the store, too, and you send the message to your guests when flashing a hundred-dollar hunk of Solingen steel that you take your cooking seriously. But do you really need something so heavy? So expensive? So difficult to maintain (which you probably won't)? Unless you are really and truly going to spend fifteen minutes every couple of days working that blade on an oiled carborundum stone, followed by careful honing on a diamond steel, I'd forgo the Germans.

Most of the professionals I know have for years been retiring their Wusthofs and replacing them with the lightweight, easy-to-sharpen and relatively inexpensive vanadium steel Global knives, a very good Japanese product which has - in addition to its many other fine qualities - the added attraction of looking really cool.

Global makes a lot of knives in different sizes, so what do you need? One chef's knife. This should cut just about anything you might work with, from a shallot to a watermelon, an onion to a sirloin strip. Like a pro, you should use the tip of the knife for the small stuff, and the area nearer the heel for the larger. This isn't difficult; buy a few rutabagas or onions - they're cheap - and practice on them. Nothing will set you apart from the herd quicker than the ability to handle a chef's knife properly. If you need instruction on how to handle a knife without lopping off a finger, I recommend Jacques Pepin's La Technique.

Okay, there are a couple of other knives you might find useful. I carry a flexible boning knife, also made by the fine folks at Global, because I fillet the occasional fish, and because with the same knife I can butcher whole tenderloins, bone out legs of lamb, French-cut racks of veal and trim meat. If your butcher is doing all the work for you you can probably live without one. A paring knife comes in handy once in a while, if you find yourself tourneing vegetables, fluting mushrooms and doing the kind of microsurgery that my old pal Dimitri used to excel at. But how often do you do that?

A genuinely useful blade, however, and one that is increasingly popular with my cronies in the field, is what's called an offset serrated knife . It's basically a serrated knife set into an ergonomic handle; it looks like a 'Z' that's been pulled out and elongated. This is a truly cool item which, once used, becomes indispensable. As the handle is not flush with the blade, but raised away from the cutting surface, you can use it not only for your traditional serrated blade needs - like slicing bread, thick-skinned tomatoes and so on - but on your full line of vegetables, spuds, meat and even fish. My sous-chef uses his for just about everything. F. Dick makes a good one for about twenty-five bucks. It's stainless steel, but since it's serrated it doesn't really matter; after a couple of years of use, if the teeth start to wear down, you just buy yourself another one.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 5:22 pm
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I have Henkels which have stayed sharp for probably 10 years. I have a sharpening steel which I use occasionally. I have a bunch but the ones I use the most are a 4 inch paring knife and a chef's knife. I would like a larger chef's knife. I have a bread knife and a fruit knife. I also have a cleaver which I thought would be useful in chopping veggies. I could easily get by with the chef's knife and the paring knife.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 6:02 pm
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We too have a set of Henckels Four Star knives. We love them! Well, Mr. Kipper loves them. I've been forbidden from using them most times, because they're that sharp. After I sliced my finger once with them, Mr. Kipper suggested that perhaps he do most of the cutting in the family.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 6:15 pm
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I finally bought a mid-range Japanese chef's knife a few months ago. It would make a mohel proud. I cannot believe how well it slices. That plus the sashimi knife came to about $200 together. I take care to wash/dry right after use and put back in the box so it doesn't get dinged up easily.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 6:21 pm
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Agree with all of the comments, one consideration for mid-range every day use knives is staining; Henckels has the patented Friodur (ice hardening) process which adds chromium carbide to carbon steel, making is somewhat stainless while still holding an edge well. The japanese knives often have a sharper edge but will stain and even rust if not carefully cleaned, while the Henckels can be abused a fair bit. As mentioned, the ceramic knives are great -- really incomparable for slicing -- but will shatter if stressed and can't be used hard.

Finally, I have an ultra-cheap Cuisinart 6 inch chef knife (made by Henckels but without the brand name), cost about $10-20, and it is superb, but with maybe 10% of the metal content of the better knives (thin steel blade, still full tang); so that is another approach for everyday cooking.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 6:29 pm
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Agree with Bourdain. Global knives are fantastic. Best I have ever owned.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 6:39 pm
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I'm also a Henkels Four Star user, but bought a Global after reading about them in Kitchen Confidential and have now started buying Global knives for my Mom as gifts. (I grew weary of her dull knives.) She loves the Global knives I've gotten for her.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 6:52 pm
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I own three Global knives; a G2 cooks knife and a G5 vegetable chopper, which cover 99% of tasks, and I also have a small GS8 peeling knife for tricky handheld tasks. All three are getting on for 10 years old and as good now as the day I bought them.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 6:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Anthony Bourdain
Most of the professionals I know have for years been retiring their Wusthofs and replacing them with the lightweight, easy-to-sharpen and relatively inexpensive vanadium steel Global knives, a very good Japanese product which has - in addition to its many other fine qualities - the added attraction of looking really cool.
What is he talking about? Global is about 50% more expensive than a comparable Wusthof/Henckel knife.

That said, I recently inherited this Global 5 1/2" vegetable knife and it instantly became my favorite knife. But at $80, it's not cheap for a mid-size knife.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 6:58 pm
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I've owned a sushi restaurant and been a chef for 6 years now and the only knife I use is my Global Sashimi knife. Great brand, very easy to maintain and sharpen...
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Old Mar 14, 11, 7:26 pm
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You also might consider a Chinese cleaver to hack away at certain things when you don't care as much about blade damage.
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Old Mar 14, 11, 8:14 pm
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Sorry if I take this off topic but I thought this might be worthy for the Henkel fans.

Their US distribution facility is about 40 min north of NYC in Elmsford, NY. Every 3 or 4 months they have a warehouse sale where they sell pretty much everything...returns, open boxes, individual pieces from a set that had one damaged piece, etc. The knives are literally pennies on the dollar. It might be worth a weekend day trip up the Hudson if anyone's looking for a deal on a knife.

I'm not sure if they advertise on their website or not. I usually just see the sign when I drive by. If anyone's interested I'll post here the next time I see it.
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