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3 knife questions from a cheftalk newbie

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
OK. My first post. Being having a good look around here and it seems like a nice place that refrains from chopping the fingertips off of newbies like

So, I have a couplla knife questions. Sorry for the long winded ramble that follows - it seemded easier to squeeze everything in here rather than several threads

Having become a bit unhappy with my Zwilling 5 star knives (got one of those big blocks as a gift a few years back) I have decided the following

1) I don't use half of them
2) They're not sharp enough (salmon skin? forget it:rolleyes:)
3) I fancy a fiddle

After ditching the bulk of the knives, I'll get myself a chefs knife and a paring knife, as I mainly just use these.

Having read around here I fancy a hiromoto chefs knife and a MAC pro paring knife. No theory here guys, just me fancying a change of tool. Can always change again

Anyway, now THAT is out of the way, here are the main questions

1) I live in Denmark. I'm pretty **** certain I cannot find them locally, so can anyone suggest a retailer / online store who would ship international orders?

2) Storage: how do you store yours? I damaged some knives with those metallic rail thingies, so that's out of the question, but what's the sheath of choice? Wooden knifeblock or something else?

3) Filleting fish: Should I be using the point of the chefs knife to fillet fish, or is a dedicated kife essential ?

I should say that I am just an amaeteur (i.e. home) cook who has no pretentions of grandeur
post #2 of 11
My knife block of choice

Knife Block - Lee Valley Tools

I like this as it's totally customizable and takes 10" knives.

They should ship international.

There is a more widely available version of this block from Kapoosh that only takes 8" knives.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 11
tillster -

I have a set of Wuesthof - same "Solingen" steel as the twins.

I have the six, eight and ten inch slicers - twice a year I get out my tri-corner stone and sharpen which and allever knives that look to knead it.

I have and use daily one of those manufacturer recommended grooved steels - the kind the fanatics all say should not be used on any knife for any reason.

I have zilch comma zip comma zero issues skinning salmon, fresh trout, the odd perch or grouper.

the most vehement fanatical statement about "those terrible German steel knives" is they don't hold an edge. uhmmm, hold for how long? I've had that set since 1985.

is the only good knife a knife you need only sharpen once a century?

there are people for whom the very thought of driving anything less than a Ferrari is simply unthinkable.

the rest of us just go with normal care and maintenance on quite adequate knives.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tip, phatch
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi Dilbert

Thanks for the reply.

I'd have a good look around some threads before posting, and was aware of the diversity of views on knives that exist here.

Safe in the knowledge that I know nothing about knives, I also resolved not to become involved in any German vs Japanese ding dongs, as relevant as they may be to my needs.

As for my needs; I have these Zwilling 5 star knives, but my chefs knife will not score salmon skin. Which is a bummer.

Whether or not a French, German or Japanese knife is better suited to was not really important to me; rather, I just wanna (a) have something that will score the skin and (b) allow me to experiment with something new for a while.

Where I'll end up at the end of it is anyone's guess, but the only certainty is that I do not intend to spend a load of cash on the knives. I'm at best an amateur home cook.

Thanks for your tips though - it's all much appreciated
post #6 of 11
I may not have understood the issue 100% correctly -

if you have a knife - any style or shape or size - that cannot cut through the skin of a fish, it is no longer "sharp" pretty much by any definition.

to state the obvious - any knife be it from mass production or from a batch of the highest quality steel existing in the cosmos, hand selected atom by atom - requires routine "maintenance" i.e. sharpening.

((re-reading you post, I mis?read that the problem was removing the skin - a chef's knife is too wide for that task, a slicer would be a better choice. but the "can't score" the fish skin is a whole 'nuther thing.))

the absolute minimal approach for sharpening is a carbide V-notch gadget plus a steel.
(see J.A. Henckels cooking and bar accessories.)
it is "the best?" - no
it is "the optimum?" - no
will a notch sharpener + steel give you a cutting edge that will do fish? - oh yeah.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi 'bert

The knife was just returned from Zwilling in germany where it had been re-sharpened!

Maybe I bought one serioulsy tough old boot boot of a salmon :-)
post #8 of 11
.......where it had been re-sharpened!

not sure I can venture a good guess as to exactly what, but there is something seriously wrong in this situation.
post #9 of 11
You can get a Hiromoto if you want but you needn't spend that much if you don't want to. The Gingami is quite good stainless steel and the AS has a carbon edge, one of the best knife steels in the world, and the rest of the blade is stainless. I would recommend a Tojiro DP made of a great Swedish stainless steel and relatively inexpensive. Watch for a 10 or 15% off pre Christmas sale starting soon.

As to a paring knife, there are many good ones and I would think you should have some dedicated knife shops in your area to find one that feels right. Being in Denmark perhaps it might not be too difficult to find a Thiers-Issard Sabatier 3" paring knife like can be found here, model #OL32108C-TI. I use one with a nogent handle and love it but the western handle might be more comfortable.

As to storage, you could take your magnetic rack and put tape on it to prevent scratching. Otherwise, save the money you might spend on a wooden block and get some Messermeister Edge Guards. Then you can store your knives anywhere you please, including on a magnetic rail.

For fish, make it easy on yourself and get a flexible fillet knife.

For sharpening, get a King 1000/6000 grit combination water stone. Information on how to sharpen with a waterstone is all over the Internet and all it takes is a little practice. Sharpening devices as a general rule don't do a very good job, and grooved steels (read files) as mentioned in a previous post make your edge look like the Himalayas under magnification and wear out your blade prematurely to boot. They might have been good enough for some old butcher a century ago, but by todays standards, they suck. :crazy:

Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
post #10 of 11
There are a number of people I'd trust to get the order on its way to Europe, but what happens once it gets there is another story completely. Let me suggest that you find retailers within the EU.

I use a block on the counter for the eight knives I use most often, a mag bar for the next 6, and have a few specialty paring knives, cheese knives, etc., with edge guards stored in the drawer. There are some very good mag bars out there, some of which are entirely wood on the exterior and are not only strong holders, but quite gentle to the knives.

Besides blocks, mag- bars, and edge guards, there are are drawer inserts. I'm not a big fan of the type of block sold at Lee Valley for a couple of reasons. 10" is a little short, and I don't like anything to touch the edge of my knives. Horizontal slots are good that way. Vertical are fine if you store your knives edge up.

There are a lot of different ways to fillet and skin fish. I was trained to use very flexible and thin knives, but have since switched to using a chef's knife the way a sushi-man would use a western deba. If you do fish of various sizes it's worth having knives of appropriate sizes. I have a small 7" chef's knife and a larger 10", which pretty much cover the range; and have a couple of very flexible knives I seldom use for filleting anymore.

More generally:

It might help you to think of your knives as one part of an interdependent and dynamic system which includes your board, your sharpening and maintenance tools and habits, your storage method(s), and your knives.

Based on what you've written, your sharpening is suspect. It sounds as though your Zwillings (Henckels) simply aren't very sharp. It's not very difficult to re-profile the knives to a better geometry than the factory original, and then sharpen on a much sharper edge. I'm aware that you had them resharpened at the factory, but you'll have to trust me when I tell you they can be made much sharper. However, they will not hold the improved the edge very long even with lots of maintenance.

When you budget for your knives, it's a good idea to budget for appropriate sharpening tools as well. There are a number of good choices, some of which are relatively easy to learn, and some of which are fairly inexpensive. If you can't afford a decent solution and the time to learn to use it, it makes no sense to buy the best knives. All knives dull with use and all dull knives are essentially equal.

Your idea of buying a few new knives is a good one. Hiromoto and MAC both make several different lines of knives. Which ones interest you?

Lots of people like the Tojiro DP Buzzard recommended to you. I don't. I think they have lousy handles, boxy, squared off and uncomfortable at best. In addition, they've got terrible fit and finish problems -- mostly around the handles as well. A lot of people have had nothing but good results from them. My guess is that F&F issues happen with about 10% of their knives.

As long as I'm rubbing up against Buzz's bad side, I wouldn't recommend the King combi stone if you can afford better. It's adequate, but just. Parenthetically, Buzz is very knowledgeable when it comes to knives. It's safe to assume that we're in basic agreement and if there's quibbling it's only around the edges.

IMO, there are better bargain priced Japanese knives made by Togiharu, Fujiwara, MAC (Superior), Kanetsugu and Kikuichi (if you can use non-stainless) to name a few.

Another knife manufacturer you might consider in the Hiromoto price level is Sakai Takayuki. I mention them in part because I know there's a good retailer in the Netherlands who handles some of their best knives. Another knife I highly recommend is the MAC Professional chef's; I believe MAC is available through Amazon UK or Twenga or ...? In any case, I can't remember but maybe you can find out.

Yet another possibility which may or may not be appropriate is French carbon. K-Sabatier au carbone is currently selling for ridiculously low prices, and Thiers-Issard **** Elepahant Sabatier (do you believe that name?) carbon and Nogent are almost as cheap.

These knives can be made very sharp very easily. As sharp as Japanese knives? Yes, but they won't stay as sharp as long. On the other hand, they can be restored easily with a fine steel. Of course they're not stainless, and you might find that unacceptable. These knives aren't for everyone. I mention them mostly because Buzz did and partly because, although I've tried many and owned a few number of Japanese knives, they're what I use.

Are they as good as good Japanese knives? Overall, not quite. Better than the modern Germans? Much.

I'd suggest going into the Knife Forum and Fred's Cutlery Forum to ask about shipping Japanese knives and sharpening gear to Europe, sales there, and so forth. Both forums have a number of European members who will be able to give you better insight into what's involved. Considering you're not interested in anything too exotic, they (we) ought to be able to find you an appropriate retailer.

Hope this helps,
post #11 of 11
No offense taken. I should have asked a simple question. "How much do you want to spend not considering import duties, taxes, etc.?"

In my defense, the Tojiro handle can be sanded down to a more comfortable shape and size, and the King stone is a good place to start. For a little more money I would say get two Shapton GlassStones, the 1k and the 2k. That makes good steel sharp enough for almost any kitchen - except mine. :smoking:

Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
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