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Introduction and Petty Questions

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone! In the last year or so, I've become yet another victim of the knife bug, and I've read so many CT threads that I've felt like part of the community, but I realize I haven't actually joined the forum, so hello!

 

First a laundry list of background info:

 

My main knives are a 240mm Konosuke HH gyuto, a 10 inch carbon K-Sab, a 270mm Misono Sweden sujihiki, and a 9 inch Victorinox/Forschner Fibrox bread knife. I also have a 180mm Mac Chef Series gyuto from before, along with a $10 stainless cimeter, a cheap meat cleaver, a stainless Chinese "cleaver" that turned out to be too thick to use for veggie prep, an unopened pair of Tramontina Pro santokus from Costco, and a 150mm Kai Wasabi petty that I don't love and mainly use as a box cutter.

 

I sharpen on an Edge Pro (CKTG's essential set + Atoma 140 and Nubatama 150 for coarse work), and I now strop on balsa wood with 1 micron diamond paste. I'll probably switch to freehanding with JKI's Gesshin stone set (400, 2000, 6000) at some point in the not-so-distant future.

 

Now for my petty questions. :) As far as I can tell, the main reason most people get a petty is that it's fairly (but not perfectly) suitable for tasks that fall into all three categories of paring, trimming, and boning. The most popular length seems to be 150mm, which seems to be just large enough to be usable for a lot of trimming and boning tasks without being too awkward for paring. However, I don't currently find myself doing any paring, and if I did I could just get a <$10 paring knife for the occasional task. So my question is (1) is there more to the rationale behind a petty than the above and (2) if not, what would be the optimal size for a petty/suji to be used just for boning and trimming? 180? 210?

 

I've come across references to Jon Broida having apparently used a 210mm petty/suji as his main line knife, but I don't know if he found 210 to be the ideal length for trimming and/or boning or if he would have preferred 180 for my purposes but needed the extra length for general gyuto-style prep.

 

All right, that's enough for one post! Thanks in advance.

 

Gladius

post #2 of 11
Welcome to Cheftalk! First, nobody says you need a petty.  I'm a BBQ person so I don't do much in hand paring work.  The small things I deal with are aromatics: shallots, garlic, and scallions.  I'm more than happy to slice or mince them on the board.

Good petty are thin (on purpose), and I don't want to worry about brushing against a bone and chipping tip.   This knife on the other hand is real big and tough and it will crush tasks like trimming ribs or beef or breaking down chicken with ease:

http://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/itinomonn-kurouchi-170mm-wa-butcher/

^that, a bone saw, and a cimeter will take you through whole animals, sub primals, whatever.  If trimming and boning are your main focus, I'd recommend it over a petty any.

Petty are recommended as an all around short knife, like a chef's is an all around longer knife. It's not as good at board work as a longer knife, not as good at in hand as a shorter paring, and too delicate for butchery. On the other hand if you can keep it real sharp and adjust your grip over the top, you could cut down your travelling kit by a few knives.
Edited by MillionsKnives - 5/26/15 at 5:30am
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your quick reply, MillionsKnives. It looks like the real question I should have asked was whether a petty is even the right kind of knife if I just want it for boning and trimming! I don't work in a professional kitchen, so travel kit size isn't applicable to me. I can always add a paring knife to my drawer if I end up doing in-hand work.

 

That knife looks awesome. I'm trying to figure out if it's exactly what I'm looking for. The only meat work I currently do is breaking down poultry and cutting the occasional subprimal into steaks. For the former, this looks great, especially if I accidentally hit a bone. I imagine I'd be fine hitting a bone with a softer, tougher petty-like knife (e.g. a 6" Nogent slicer) but maybe not with something harder and laser thin like a Gesshin Ginga or Konosuke petty.

 

For fabricating steaks, I need something that excels in both removing silverskin and in cutting the steaks. I currently use my suji either for both or for just the fat and silverskin and then switch to a cimeter for the steaking. The suji is uncomfortably long for removing silverskin, but I find the narrowness of the blade (and to some degree the flexibility) much more useful than, say, my short Mac gyuto. The Itinomonn is obviously not going to be flexible, but is it narrow enough for comfortably removing silverskin? On paper it's 35mm from spine to heel, which isn't much wider than a petty, but I can't visualize how it feels in practice with that profile. If it works really well for removing silverskin *and* for steaking, then I'd much prefer to use it as a single knife over a petty and cimeter in succession. Assuming it's also good for breaking down birds, then I think I'm good to go.

post #4 of 11

Despite being a hefty kind of thing, the tip is very pointy.  It's too short for portioning steaks, where I like a longer knife to get it all in one cut, but you have the suji for that already, or even a chefs will do.

 

Let's put it this way.  I own a honesuki, whose sole purpose is to break down chicken and it works great for that.  But only breaking down chicken in a very specific japanese way that doesn't require cutting through the backbone or anything like that.  With the wa butcher, I don't really care.  I've cut through chicken bones with the heel no problem, and the extra pointy curved tip gets where it needs to go in any meat.  The honesuki hasn't seen much use since I got the itinomonn. 

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

A certain former contributor here used to emphasize that the honesuki is only really the most appropriate boning knife if you're making yakitori, so that makes sense. I actually break down chickens without deliberately going through any bones since I almost always want boneless breasts, but it would be nice to have something heavy duty yet nimble for future tasks. I've never held a western deba, but this knife sounds a lot like one but with a more versatile profile. Does that seem accurate? In any event, you've sold me on this knife being great for breaking down chicken. What about for trimming and removing silverskin?

post #6 of 11

I'm just talking about parting fast like this:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-gf5QUFh3L8

 

The parts are used in any number of cuisines.  Just don't expect it to spatchcock or debone a whole intact chicken.

 

 

No problems at all with silverskin.  The only downside to the itinomonn butcher is that it doesn't meet the minimum for free shipping so you need to find some filler item.

post #7 of 11

Welcome aboard - Personally I prefer a Hankotsu for breaking down whole animals, primals, slabs of ribs, etc.  It has a stout blade and is easier to work into joints and goes through gristle better than a Honesuke.  I have both and if I'm breaking down fowl I use a Honesuke, or my stout petty (Del Ealy 150mm in AEB-L).  For portioning steaks you want a long blade - 270 Gyuto, Suji even a scimitar.  It's nice to get that one slice action.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you both and sorry for disappearing for a week. (I got sick. Now I'm better.) I decided that I don't do enough butchery for either the Itinomonn wa-butcher or a hankotsu. I ended up just going with a Victorinox/Forschner fibrox 6" semi-stiff curved boning knife. It seems slightly more useful for trimming meat and breaking down a chicken than a petty of the same length, and it was only ~$20 on Amazon, so I won't feel too bad if I end up not liking it.

post #9 of 11
Perfectly servicable knife. A lot of professional butchers use it or something just like it. Youre going to use the honing steel a lot though. The shop I learned at had like 100 of these. When the steel stopped bringing the edge back they just sent them out for sharpening.
post #10 of 11

I use a 30 or 40 year old Japanese stainless knife that was manufactured for the Western market.  Has much the same dimensions as a 6" Honkatsu, was rather thick but I took care of that.  A narrow 6" blade nicely handles a lot of trimming tasks.

 

I do keep thinking of that Hiromoto sld steel Honesuki, I think I really just like the idea of a relatively cheap utility-sized blade in sld.

 

 

Rick

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

MillionsKnives, thanks for the heads up on steeling it. I don't have much experience with soft European stainless, but I suspected as much. In a way it's a good thing since my Idahone gets pretty lonely with the Sab being mainly a backup knife.

 

Rick Alan, I kind of wish Benuser didn't post that. I have literally no use for a honesuki, but at that price and in SLD it's so tempting...

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