Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My life (knife?) will never be the same

As I've mentioned in a few posts, my hands tend to get very numb while chopping at RestoX, and it takes a full day for me to get the circulation running again. As friend G. says, it's probably not a good thing if I want to keep my hand in good working order for what lies ahead (kitchen celebrity, fortune, etc). At first I thought it was the chest-high work surface, so I added an inch to my height with some clogs, but to no relief. Then I checked with Adam if I was holding my knife correctly, and he gave me a nod. Maybe it's my knife that's the problem? I've been working with a Wüsthof chef's knife, a well-respected German brand. But I'm not a 6-foot German, and there must be something in that, no?

What I've gathered from cursory research is that professionals actually prefer Japanese knives.
They're vastly different from German knives in that they're several ounces lighter (a monumental difference when you're chopping and mincing all day) and much more precise (helps "slice" delicate herbs, not mutilate them). They tend to stay sharper much longer since the blade is made of a hard, dense metal that doesn't dull as quickly as German knives. Another huge difference is the way the edge of the blade is designed. German knives are sharpened evenly on both edges, creating a "v" shape. Japanese knives are mostly sharpened on the cutting edge, the side that faces away from you, at an average 70/30% ratio. This helps with the precision factor.

At Adam's suggestion, I visited Korin, a very zen Japanese knife shop in Tribeca that feels more like a knife museum. With the help of a wonderful sales person (a chef himself), and got myself a sparkling new Suisin Inox Gyutou. I came home and fine-sliced some scallions and parsley for my cous cous dish (recipe to come), and without the least bit of exaggeration, it was a life-changing experience. Oh my goodness gracious...

This topic probably isn't nearly as fascinating to you as it is to me, but I say, see the difference yourself! I open up my kitchen to anyone to drop by any time and try out the two knives side-by-side. I only ask that you give me some prior notice so I can pick up some chives and tarragon for you to backwards-slice.


mimsi said...

i am loving that knife.
it just looks good.
recently bought a new knife and it kinda sucks.
there is nothing like a good handle.
i have knife envy.

Undercover Cook said...

You would love it even more if you tried slicing something with it. Oh. My. God. Shall we plan a trip down to Korin sometime soon?

Jenny said...

I love your blog! The knife experience is a kitchen-changing thing. I saw Steven slicing bread with his new japanese knife. Bread! Let's go to Korin next!

Undercover Cook said...

Yes, let's go! Somehow it's very relaxing to be surrounded by hundreds of shiny knives. Be prepared to buy yourself one, Jenny!

Anonymous said...

as for a official cook I need to tell you tomorrow I will buy a better Japanese Knife than yours;-)
In Munich we have good knifstores I will send you a picture and you will have it, haha

ChefWife said...

You've got a great blog going on here. This secret life of yours is a brilliant story to tell. Keep at it!