What knife is best?
Kitchen knives and Sharpening/Honing steels.
Choosing and buying the right knives can often be very daunting; especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s also vital that you take care of your knives and keep them sharp for optimum performance and usage.
This is why we recommend getting a good quality sharpening or honing steel. Many of you may already have your own knives, but for those who don’t and are just starting out, here is some information and guidance on what you will need to get started.
Many of you may be tempted to buy a full set of knives, but unless you are a professional, this is really not necessary. At this stage, you will not be required to have an extensive knife set. Knives are made all over the world however the best quality knives are most commonly made in Germany and Japan.
We would recommend to start off with purchasing just two knives. The first being a decent chef’s knife or Santoku. Both are all purpose knives, with the chef’s knife being a western style knife and the Santoku a Japanese knife with a fluted blade to reduce friction when chopping. The second knife should be a small to medium paring or vegetable knife.
Japanese knives are usually made from thinner but tougher steel and can therefore be sharpened to a much finer angle than a western style knife. This allows for higher level of precision when cutting, which is essential in Japanese cuisine. Due to the way Japanese knives are made, they also have highly durable blades that stay sharp for a long time.
Understandably, you may be very tempted to go out and buy Japanese knives, but it’s worth noting that whilst the quality of Japanese steel is often superior, Japanese knives are not always designed with the western style of cutting in mind, which is to rock the knife back in forth in motion when chopping.
Japanese knives usually have a single-bevel, whereas western knives tend to have a double-bevel. The bevel refers to the surface that is ground to form the edge of the knife. Single-bevel knives can be ground to a much finer angle than double-bevel knives, however with the western style of cutting, your Japanese knives may be more susceptible to becoming chipped and/or wear down faster.
With this is mind, there are some excellent quality European knives available on the market that can be of equal or superior quality to their Japanese counterparts. European knifes often require sharpening more often and as they are double bevelled, you will need to sharpen both sides of the blade.
Ensuring your knives are comfortable with the correct sized grip is just as important as deciding on whether to go for a Japanese or European knife. This is why we highly recommend visiting a reputable knife or kitchenware shop and holding the knives before you empty your wallets. This also gives you a chance to talk to the experts who can guide you on the best knives to suit your budget and experience.
Knives can vary in price from very cheap to extravagantly expensive. It is not necessary to spend vast amounts of money on knives and there are many high-quality knives available from reputable brands, that are relatively inexpensive and often good value for money.
Sharpening/Honing steels/Wet stones
Keeping your knives sharp is vital and there is no point investing in high quality knives to then skimp out on the tools required to maintain them. With that being said, like with knives, you do not need to spend vast amounts of money.
Wet stones are the preferred method of sharpening knives for professionals as they deliver the best results; but it takes skill, practice and patience to get the optimum use out of a wet stone. For those of you using or considering purchasing Japanese knives, please be aware that it is not recommended that you use anything other than a wet stone, as sharpening and honing steels can damage their thin and razor-sharp blades. If you would like to learn to how to use a wet stone there are many YouTube tutorials available.
Sharpening and Honing steels
Whats the difference?
Very simply, a sharpening steel gives an edge to the knife by removing particles of the knife blade and honing steels will polish your blades without removing any metal. The honing steel should be used to keep your knife sharp and if you remember to use the honing steel each time you use your knives, you should not have to use a sharpening steel as often.