On Buying Knives
A year ago I never thought I would be writing about buying knives, but now I’m a married man so I’ve been through the whole registration for gifts thing. Which means I now know about knives, linens, thread counts, serving plates, etc. Since M and I really like to cook together, buying knives was one of the things I was really looking forward to. The ones we used before the wedding were her old ones and, as far as I knew, were OK. Now we have our new ones and I can truly say that, yikes, they were NOT OK.
Here’s what I have to tell you, the prospective knife buyer, about the what I learned from the knife buying experience:
- Get a good brand: Ask the person at the store but also remember these names: Cuisinart, Henckels, Viking and Calphalon. Those are all winners.
- Don’t look at the prices: It may feel crazy to pay $50 for a single knife, but that just might be the case. What’s the point of buying a knife if it’s going to turn to crap in a few months? Don’t let the price force you into making a bad decision. After all, you’re not even paying for it!
- Don’t buy a set: I know it’s easy to just find a wooden block with a bunch of knives sticking out of it and think to yourself, “OK that’s it. Let’s move on to the next thing.” Don’t do it. You do not need all those knives. Focus one one or two knives — that will be more than enough.
- Buy a Kapoosh or a magnetized knife rack: This will keep your knives from getting dinged up in those awful wooden blocks that everyone has. Every time you put a knife back into that rack, it nicks the blade and takes away some of its sharpness. Bad wooden rack!
- Buy a Santoku Blade: This is the knife I use for everything. Once you use it and see how easy it is to chop and slice, you’ll never want to use another knife again. It even has little hollow bumps on the side so what you’re cutting doesn’t stick to the blade. I own the Henckels Santoku knife and it’s awesome. Yes, I used awesome in reference to a knife. Sometimes I wield it around and feel like a ninja, which is an added bonus. But be careful — it cuts like a ninja blade too.
- Hand wash your knives: You don’t have to hand wash the steak knives, but the cooking knives should be washed and dried by hand. If you put them in the machine they will get nicked inside and you won’t have that crisp sharpness they have when they’re new.
I remember the first time I used our new Santoku blade: I was cutting up some peppers and it was like cutting through butter. I turned to M and chuckled, “Look!” It was another one of those moments where you say to yourself, “This is what I’ve been missing all along.” Having a good knife makes cooking easier, faster and more fun. But do be carefu! this blade will cut through flimsy cutting boards and lazy fingers — I learned that the hard way.