utlery, my curious audience, is key. Imagine trying to prepare a meal, any meal, without some sharp or edged tool to dismantle your fearful produce and protein. No other item in the kitchen is so pivotal to the success and enjoyment of cooking than the hand-held edge.
An edge, whether it be made of steel, aluminum, ceramic, or wood for that matter is the cooks most important weapon in an obese arsenal of everyday utensils. The knife should be an extension of your hand, moving precisely and comfortably with every firing neuron in your culinary mind. This comes with time and extensive practice, along with a flurry of scars, but basic knife skills are still second to the edge itself. Since so many people tend to ask about my own cutlery quiver I thought I’d share the team with you all:
#1: 210mm Hiromoto Gyuto
This samurai of a chefs knife took me over a year to research and finally settle on. Handmade by Mr. Futoshi Nagao in Seki City, Japan (a city dedicated to sword and knife making), the blade is hand forged creating the wavey pattern towards the blade. What you’re seeing is the High Carbon Steel on the interior sandwiched between layers of stainless. This is often called Damascus and the use of High Carbon Steel allows the blades edge to last almost indefinitely with tender love and care. More on that later. This baby’s my baby, she does all the work while I just sit back and apply minimal pressure…like some kind of sexy chopping robot…
#2: 210mm Stamped Cusinart Knife
Stamped blades are just that, a blade shape stamped out of a sheet of metal and sharpened to an edge. Cheap, reliable, and very easy to maintain these knives are great for everyday use and constant neglect. I’ve had this particular knife since 2003. He’s seen one too many college parties and washer machines but still holds a sharp edge after a steady sharpening.
#3: Paring or Petty Knife
I almost never saw my Nan use anything in her kitchen but a paring knife. Wearing a flowery mumu and bubbly wig she would stand over the pot slicing garlic, potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes by pushing the paring knife thru the vegetable and stopping on her thumb. I learned to master this trick over time, but I definitely had my fair share of mishaps (one time to the bone!). Nowadays I use my paring knife for cleaning shrimp, peeling zest, prepping vegetables, you name it. 2nd most important knife in the holster.
#4: Short Santoku
This guy is not that important, but I just can’t seem to part with him. He’s beaten up, often showing signs of rust, but I always revert back to him for quick and simple cuts like herbs, small veggies, chicken, etc. He’s ideal for smashing garlic and salt together to form a paste as well as finely dicing shallots or slicing up some oranges for a midnight snack. Keep up the good work ole’ buddy.
#5: Knife Steel
Sounds like a Nicholas Cage movie. A Knife Steel does not actually sharpen your blade, instead it straightens it. As you use any knife the edge becomes slightly disformed and notched. By sliding your blade evenly across the Knife Steel, switching from edge to edge, you are actually correcting the form of your knife’s edge and creating a more consistent surface that will cut better. This is why you see chefs quickly sliding their blades up and down a Steel before butchery, to make sure the edge is as close to perfect as they can get and ensuring clean cuts. Check out some videos on youtube if you have one and don’t know how to use it.
These are obviously not the only knives in the Tuorto Toolshed but they get the most use and deserve special recognition. BUT WAIT! There are 2 more very important things you have to know before you rush out to the nearest arms dealer for bushido-sharp cutlery:
1. Sharpen your knives often.
Don’t be fooled by the dainty, round sharpener on sale at the grocery store. Those pieces of shit can ruin a blade in a heart beat. Instead, try to find a local sharpener to take your best quality blades to every 3-6 months OR invest in a Japanese Wet Stone like I did! I love this thing, makes me feel like I’m preparing for some epic battle with Tom Cruise and Hattori Hanso. Having the wet stone at home means I can sharpen my knives for free as often as I like, typically every month.
2. No Dishwasher!
I am super cereal about this. Remember those bumps and dings that you use the Knife Steel to straighten out? Your dishwasher is why they’re there. Even for your crappiest of knives, tossing them in the dishwasher is like putting them in a pillow case and having the worst pillow fight ever. Needless to say, the knives are ruined and you’ll probably hurt someone. Handwash all your knives, it takes 2 seconds and your edge will last much longer without the metal-to-metal action they’ll receive in the washer.
That’s all, happy cutting folks.