First something about me: I am a newbie at cooking. So, I will have to learn a lot of skills, including cooking, knife techniques, knife maintenance and sharpening.
In order to start cooking I will need a few decent knives. The problem is that I cannot base my purchases on experience as I don't have any. Although, I got a lot of very useful information from this forum (many thanks to the regular contributors here).
From what I have read on the forums, a basic knife set is based around a chef's knife and consists of a chef's knife, a parer/office/petty knife, a bread knife and a slicer. At a minimum a large (chef's) and a small (parer) knife would suffice to do most of the cutting tasks in a home kitchen. The minimum set , expandable - if needed - to the basic set, will be the scope of my knife purchases.
As I have to learn cooking, knife skills, maintenance and sharpening at the same time I was planning to initially purchase relatively inexpensive knives. Later, when I will have gained more experience and practical knowledge I will gradually acquire higher quality (and more expensive) knives. This strategy would offer me a few advantages:
- the "collateral damage" of my learning process will not be at the cost of any expensive knife
- when I move up to a better set of knives, I will still have a good "beater" set available if the need should arise
- I will be able to base my more expensive knife purchases at least partly on my own experience, everybody seems to agree that personal preference is an important variable when choosing a knife
- As I will already have a usable set of knives, the more expensive ones can be bought at a slower pace (as budget becomes available)
For a first purchase I was considering knives from the Sabatier-K brand, more precisely from their stainless "Authentique" range. These are the knives I am looking at (prices in euro as I live in Belgium):
- chef's knife 25cm: €55
- office knife 10cm: €24
- bread knife 20cm: €45
- slicing knife 25cm: €50
Total expense for those knives would be €174. If the need would arise, I could add a boning knife (13cm) for €35.
The slicing knife mentioned in my list above is the "tranchelard". There is also the 20cm Yatagan carving knife. It looks - at least to me - like they are both capable of carving and slicing. Is there a good reason to choose one above the other?
When I move up to higher quality knives I will be surely be looking at Mac Pro and Masamoto VG knives. They seem to be a logical step up from the Stainless Sabatier knives. But before I will shell out this kind of money I will need some personal experience to help me decide what to buy…
For maintaining a sharp edge, regular use of the steel is required. I have seen American HandMade and F. Dick steels highly recommended on this forum. However, only F. Dick seems to be available in Europe. I am looking at the Dickeron family of steels:
- Dick micro (super fine cut)
- Dick polish (polish cut)
- Dick classic (sapphire cut, what does this mean? Is it fine enough?)
I am considering to get the Dick micro with the super fine cut. Would that be a good choice? Would the Dick polish be more suitable for harder Japanese knives?
As for sharpening: I would like to learn to freehand sharpen my knives. I already own a set of Norton waterstones (220/1000 and 4000/8000). I have some limited experience with sharpening woodworking chisels (also freehand but a chisel has a lot more guiding surface). I think this would suffice tot get me started sharpening my knives. If the freehand sharpening really wouldn't work out I would consider getting a sharpening system like the Edge Pro. However I would like to try freehand first.