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Good short knife for crowded space cooking?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I am a member of a KCBS BBQ team, and being a relatively new team, we usually find ourselves in the small sites with a lot of cobbled-together work spaces. There is never enough prep space underneath a couple of 10X10 canopies!

 

I always take a boning knife and I have a 12" slicer for brisket. My question is, what would be the best "short" all-purpose knife for chopping, trimming, garnish, etc? I love my 10" Fibrox chef's knife that I use at home, but it is awkwardly large when you're relegated to one corner of a table. 

 

Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 16

I'm not a competitive BBQ cook, but I'm a certified KCBS judge and avid home BBQ cook. 

 

For what you're going to use this specific knife for, I'd recommend a 180 or 210 petty.  They're not as tall as a chef's knife, which will allow you to use them for trimming competitive meats, they're not too long for use in cramped quarters or on small cutting boards, but they're nimble enough as a small slicer, and, depending on the specific knife, a little flexible which, in my experience, is good for trimming ribs, chicken and brisket.

post #3 of 16

I forgot to add that because you're cooking competitively, and usually without adequate cleaning facilities, running water, etc., I would definitely recommend a stainless knife or stainless clad knife and a handle that has good feel, texture and shape so that it's not too slippery when it gets wet, covered with fat, or if you're using plastic gloves. 

 

I would also recommend not sharpening them to a very high grit; a toothier edge will allow you to cut through the bark more easily. 

 

I would use something along the lines of this: http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives-by-type/petty-knife/gesshin-ginga-180mm-stainless-petty.html  I generally find 120/150 mm to be too short for general use.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

mhlee, thank you for your insight! 

 

I've never used a 150-180 mm petty before - it looks like there isn't very much clearance under the handle. It looks like that would make any chopping tasks pretty difficult. Can you use such a knife to chop with a proper grip?

 

The Mac Superior 7" looks like it might be useful because of the upturned handle, and a number of manufacturers make shorter (6"-7") santokus. I hardly ever use the santoku in my block at home (I got it as a gift), but might it meet the needs?

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtower42 View Post
 I love my 10" Fibrox chef's knife that I use at home, but it is awkwardly large when you're relegated to one corner of a table. 

 

I would stick to your chef's knife and ( I don't mean this in a disrespectful way ) work on your comfort and skill level with it. I use my chef's knife pretty continuously over the course of an 8 hour day for at least 95% of my prep tasks.

 

A chef's knife is a great all round choice for handling a multitude of jobs in the right hands. The best way to make sure that your hands are the right hands, is by using your chef's knife more and more.

 

I use my chef's knife for everything from fine dicing cherry tomatoes, cutting supremes of oranges, fileting fish, deboning chicken, cleaning and portioning whole tenderloins of beef. As to working in limited space, as your comfort level using your chef's knife increases, your discomfort with limited space will decrease. I have worked in some way small, tight, cramped kitchens, such as galleys on boats and done so while using my chef's knife.

 

If you stop to think about it a 180mm petty is only about 3" shorter than your 10" fibrox, about the length of my middle finger. Is that really going to make an impact on working space?

 

I have a large tool chest full of all shapes, sizes, and types knifes, but over the years, the number of different knives that I use has dropped to the point to where it is pretty much just me and my chef's knife.

 

You already have a knife that you love, fine tune your relationship with it :chef:

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #6 of 16

The petty doesn't have much knuckle clearance.  But it's fine if you modify your grip or cut toward the edge of the board so your knuckles are off the board.  But, I don't know how comfortable you are with changing your grips (I use a variety of grips depending on what I'm cutting). 

 

I also don't know how comfortable you are with using a chef's knife to trim meats.  If you are, then just get a smaller chef's knife.  If, however, you feel like a thinner knife is best for trimming, then I would definitely recommend something like the petty.  It's really up to you. 

 

If you want the best of both worlds, well, a shorter (height) chef's knife would be best.  Unfortunately, there aren't many mass made knives like this. 

 

You can always have two knives instead of going for a one size fits all mentality, which, in my experience, isn't always the best.  

post #7 of 16

165mm-180mm chef knife / funayuki will work great for cramped spaces.

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhlee View Post
 

You can always have two knives instead of going for a one size fits all mentality, which, in my experience, isn't always the best.  

That mentality may not be best for you, but 40 years of professional practical experience has led me to the point where I feel comfortable with my chef's knife. For me it isn't so much a mentality but a reality.  That is just my experience, it may not be yours. Value judgements aside, neither experience is better than the other.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm a "fewer is better" person myself. My chef's knife and parer (both Victorinox) cover 90% of my needs, and a bread knife, boning knife and big slicer cover an additional 9.9%.

I am looking for an additional knife, mostly so I don't have to take my everyday knife when I go to competitions. And I figured smaller might be better just because everything is tight at a comp.
post #10 of 16
As a regularly barbecuer, I was thinking what was best for his needs as I nearly every week prep something along the lines of what he does at competitions.

If size is the only issue, and not performance, then bring an extra table for yourself so you have enough space to work.

But, personally, I like a thinner height knife for trimming ribs and brisket.
post #11 of 16

What about a medium size Yo Deba like the Tojiro DP 21 cm? It's stainless, can stand abuse and CKTG sells it for $140.

 

 

I have a Minamoto-Kanemasa Yo-Deba 240mm. and use it a lot when dealing with all kind of meats.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #12 of 16
You might consider a larger santoku -- I have some 190mm in mind. Excepted for the tip it corresponds more ore less to a 240mm gyuto, and for fine tip work you may add a150mm petty.
post #13 of 16

yo deba's are too thick and are not made for cutting veg and meat. it's designed for hacking through hard veg, chicken bones and fish heads. 

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

thanks to everyone for their advice - I certainly learned a lot from researching everybody's suggestions.

 

I decided to take cheflayne's advice and stick with what I know. I have an 8" Fibrox that was my "everything" knife before I got the 10" - with my lovely wife's permission, I am going to pull the 8" out of the block and put it in my roll for comps. I'm familiar with it, I know how it feels, it's cheap enough that if it grows legs I won't be too upset, and it's a little more compact than my 10". 

 

Thanks again!

post #15 of 16

one last thing you can consider is a CCK cleaver or go to any china town that sells chinese vegetable cleavers. there are ones that are short enough to work well in small spaces. try one out. they're cheap and i doubt you'll hate using it. everyone says those things are prep machines! easy to sharpen and very thin behind the edge. (not a cleaver for hacking through stuff, a cleaver for veg and prepping mostly)

 

i recommend the cck 1303.

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by FranzB69 View Post

one last thing you can consider is a CCK cleaver or go to any china town that sells chinese vegetable cleavers. there are ones that are short enough to work well in small spaces. try one out. they're cheap and i doubt you'll hate using it. everyone says those things are prep machines! easy to sharpen and very thin behind the edge. (not a cleaver for hacking through stuff, a cleaver for veg and prepping mostly)

i recommend the cck 1303.

A cleaver maybe fine for cutting certain things, but it is a bad choice for trimming standard competition barbecue meats like brisket, ribs, chicken thighs, and pork butt. It's unwieldy for trimming silverskin off of brisket, or doing detailed fine fat trimming off of ribs or pork butt. I've tried this; a standard chef's knife is far superior for these tasks.
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