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What's next after the gyuto & paring knife?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

After much lurking, I bought a Konosuke HD 240mm Gyuto a year ago based on recommendations on this forum.  It was an awesome purchase that has substantially increased my enjoyment and speed of food prep.  Just recently I lost access to all my other kitchen knives and have been rebuilding a full collection.  I just bought a Tojiro 80mm paring knife, which suits me very well for all handheld work (and happens to enable an easy pinch grip, due to a gap between the handle and the start of the blade).


I don't feel those two knives really suffice as a complete set, though, and this is where I've encountered a conundrum. There are some situations where I feel the gyuto is way to big (or, being semi-stainless, a little too tempermental), and the paring is unquestionably too small.  Working with meat, cutting fruit, occasions where I'm doing only one small task instead of prepping a mountain of veggies for a full meal in particular.  So what do I fill this gap with?


Apart from your gyuto or cleaver, what do you all use the most on your cutting board?


I just bought a hiromoto 120mm petty, hoping this would fill the gap, but I find it a bit too small.  I'm unable to find a comfortable way to use my pinch grip on it without the constant threat of cutting my index finger.  To this point, all my knives are western handled, and I had been hoping to stay in that category, if only for appearance's sake (I have my knives hanging on a magnetic strip, somewhat on display in my kitchen).


So i'll be returning that, but what do I replace it with?  A 150mm hiromoto or masamoto?  Wa-petty knives seem like they're more conducive to a comfortable pinch grip, but I have been a bit leery of going to that type of handle.  Other options?


As an aside, I think a bread knife is probably another must-have kit addition.  Any recommendations there?



post #2 of 6

After a main prep knife I think it gets down to personal preferences in your cooking style. There's a lot you can do with your Gyuto. Our salad/veg prep person uses nothing but a 10 inch Chef's and a peeler.


But some tasks are more ideal with another knife, like breaking down meat, carving large hams, briskets or roasts, crusty breads, sashimi, fileting fish, etc.


Persoanlly I use Chef's knives for just about everything, we also have a cheap folding pocket knife to open boxes and packages, serrated steak knives when I want a slice of lemon for my tea.
Our bread knife is used occasionally. also ...
A Forschner Breaking knife when working around and through bones like fileting a whole salmon, breaking down poultry, or portioning a slab of spare ribs into a St Louis style cut.
Slicer for large cuts like a full briskets or roasts.

My Chinese Cleaver, Paring, and a VG-10 145 mm Petty go unused.


-- re. your grip on the smaller knives (unlike your Gyuto) I don't think a Pinch Grip is critical or necessary

Edited by JohnR - 10/16/12 at 2:02pm
post #3 of 6
I bought a 150 mm petty and use it more than I would have imagined. I thought a 120 would be too small and very glad I went with the 150. Used a lot for light vegetable prep

You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning


You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning

post #4 of 6

It depends on your cooking style and what you are preparing.  If you are breaking down a lot of proteins then you really need a heavy cleaver, maybe a stout boning knife.  Much to many peoples chagrin I do use my Deba for jointing chickens.  I find it more nimble than a cleaver and it goes through gristle like butter.  I would never hack through a bone with a knife and Japanese knives are very task specific in terms of their construction. 


My kit consists of the following knives:  300mm Yanagiba (for slicing), 240mm and 210mm Gyuto (depends on the board size), 180mm Deba (fish and fowl), 150mm Petty (small work), 150mm Honesuki-Maru (stout boning knife), 9" bread knife, heavy cleaver for bones, Chinese light cleaver for fun.


One does not have to spend a lot of money to outfit themselves with decent knives.  Most of mine cost less than $100, a several less than $150 and two over $150. All are great knives especially after a trip to the stones for sharpening. 

post #5 of 6

A set consisting of 240 or 270 chef's/gyuto; 150 or 180 petty; 270 or 300 slicer/suji; and 10" bread can accomplish all but the most specialized of knife tasks with aplomb.


You want as good a chef's knife as you can reasonably afford; and the samefor the slicer, even though you want use it as much. 


Your petty should be simple and stout enough to handle all the abuse and sharpening it will get; I recommend against getting a prestige petty or one with a lot of cosmetics.  Buy something you can afford to replace every three years or so.  


Get one of the reverse serrated longer bread knives.  They do bread better than the old fashioned, "normal" serration blades; and pastry much better.  Go with a 10" knife, anything less is too short for cake.  There are three which really stand out:  Forschner 10.25", Tojiro ITK, and MAC Superior 10.5".    


If you're using a relatively delicate chef's knife you'll want to add something just as heavy duty for the tough stuff; perhaps a heavier German chef's to compliment a Japanese knife, a Forschner Cimeter, or...  I have an old 12"

Sabatier carbon, a Forschner Cimeter, and an old Chicago Cutlery carbon cleaver (made in the late sixties).  Compared to the other two knives the cleaver is heavy, awkward, an overall PITA and seldom gets used.    


If you do a lot of meat work, you'll want something that can take the abuse of breaking and boning a little better than a higher end petty.  Forschner is the butcher's gold standard.  Forschner Fibrox and Rosewood knives aren't perfect, but they're inexpensive, maintain extremely well on a steel, and last a long time.  If you do a lot of boning, it's hard to beat a Forschner breaker. 


In my experience specialized Japanese knives like the yanagiba, deba, usuba, honesuke, etc., do what they're designed to do very well, but aren't particularly good for normal western style cutting.  I suggest avoiding them unless you're very curious or have a specialized need.


After a good chef's, the best investments you can make in your knife kit is work on your knife skills, sharpening skills, a good board, and good sharpening equipment. 



post #6 of 6

BDL, what would you say the overall, price no issue, king of chefs/gyutos are?

Not just BDL, but anyone else too

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