I love knives! It’s a little scary for Julianne. I’m sure she finds my knife fetish a little disturbing. I particularly like Japanese knives. The Japanese really know what they’re doing when it comes to high quality knives.
Knives are the only kitchen related thing I can talk to the guys at work about without their eyes glazing over and having the conversation quickly turn to sports or anything other than cooking. Guys just instinctively dig knives. It’s in our DNA. The love of knives must live on the Y chromosome.
I’ve managed to acquire a reasonable arsenal of knives. I’m not one who needs a knife for every job in the kitchen. I really like the santoku blade. I prefer it to the traditional French chef’s knife blade. Santoku means ‘Three Virtues’ or ‘To solve Three Problems’. The virtues or problems are slicing, dicing and mincing. I also like the nikiri blade. It’s considered a vegetable knife.
I have a half-way decent knife block. It doesn’t store all of my knives and the opening for my new honing steel is too small but it gets the job done. I like to store my knives with the spine side down. I think it keeps the blades happier and the slots don’t get chewed up by my knives. Yes. They’re that sharp.
Fujiwara Maboroshi No Meito 165mm Santoku
I picked this one up when I was on a triathlon trip to the Okanagan. Knifewear is strategically located between two bike shops that we frequented on our trip. I walked by the store a couple times before I finally succumbed and went inside. These knife-nerds know their stuff. The store is chock full of drool inducing cutlery.
They let you test various knives. There are cutting boards with tomatoes and potatoes for you to get the feel of the knives. I almost made the mistake of cutting something with a brand new knife. I didn’t know that they have a set of knives that you can test with and the ones for sale have never been used. With cutlery of this caliber there is a patina that forms on the carbon steel. It’s colour and character are determined by what you first cut with the knife. When I bought my knife I couldn’t really see the difference between the carbon steel edge and the rest of the knife. Slowly, after cutting various things the carbon steel showed itself. It’s truly an awesome process to watch.
Not long after I bought this knife I did the unthinkable. I was warned not to cut through bone but I was still infatuated with this knife and I was using it for absolutely everything. I made a wonderful rack of lamb and grabbed my Fujiwara to cut the rack into chops. I chipped the blade in two spots before I realized how stoopid I was. This is really not kewl. Gonna have to send it to the boys at Knifeware for repair. I don’t know if they’ll ever look me in the eye again when I enter their store. I might have to go in disguise.
Shun Pro Usuba (Nakiri)
This is another knife that was purchased on a trip. This one was purchased at the SoHo Sur La Table in New York City. The Nakiri blade is perfect for cutting vegetables. It takes a little getting used to because you don’t use it like a regular chef’s knife. With a chef’s knife you use a rocking motion to cut. With a nikiri blade you slice through the food and the straight blade meets the cutting board evenly (no rocking required). This knife has a single bevel blade so it’s only sharpened on one side. The nakiri blade is ideal for cutting vegetables. Because the whole blade toches the cutting board at the same time (if you use it right) it virtually eliminates the accordion problem. What’s that? Say you’re cutting a red pepper in to strips. Sometimes you get a bunch of those strips that are still connected at one end or the other. Not much of an issue if you use this knife correctly.
Kershaw Shun Classic Santoku
This was the first Japanese knife I ever bough. It’s still my kitchen workhorse. I can use this one to do most kitchen jobs. Santoku means “Three Virtues” in Japanese, and this knife gets its name for the three strengths it demonstrates in the kitchen: cutting vegetables, thin-boned meats, and fish. I like this blade better than traditional chef’s knife. The blade has a wonderful Damascus pattern that, besides looking good, is supposed to help food from sticking to the knife. The handles are D-shaped to fit in your palm and slightly off centre. The whole knife is extremely well-balanced and it’s a joy to cut with it.
Kershaw Shun Classic Paring Knife
This is the companion to my Shun Classic Santoku. I don’t need to use it very often but when I do it’s really useful. I don’t use this one for chopping stuff on the cutting board it’s mostly used for jobs where I’m cutting things that I’m holding in my hand.
Ceramic Honing Rod
Not a knife but incredibly useful. A lot of people call this a sharpening steel. It does’t actually sharpen your blade. It’s purpose is to hone the blade. All it’s doing is re-aligning the microscopic burs that form at the very tip of the cutting edge. When everything is lined up straight your knife cuts smoothly. When it’s not it feels like there’s something dragging while making your cut. A honing steel usually costs about $50. This one was $25 if purchased in conjunction with a knife at Knifewear. Not a bad deal at all.