Knife for cutting thin tomato slices

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by Guest, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    While my 10" chef's knife does a fine job, I find for more delicate slicing work it is a little large, and perhaps a thinner japanese knife would work better. So that brings me to the question. What is your preferred knife for fine thin slices of tomatoes or potatoes?

    I was thinking possibly a 150mm petty would be perfect for this but since ive never used one I really have no idea. I have also been fooling around with the idea of a dimpled petty. I am leaning this way just because of the limited santoku use I have had. The thin slices not sticking to the knife is nice.

    Any thoughts, opinions, suggestions would be much appreciated.
     
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Excellent question.

    There's a limit to how thin even Japanese thin knives get.  A super thin knife can make a little bit of difference with a few foods, but sharpness and technique are typically more significant limiting factors. 

    I have a couple of Thiers Issard "Nogent" carbon Sabatiers which are as thin as just about any Japanese made knife other than a Tadatsuna or the equivalent Suisun,  I don't think I slice thinner with either of these than with my K-Sab au carbone, or "Canadian" Sabatier 10" chef's knives -- which are a bit thicker than the Nogents, but significantly thinner than a typical German chef's. 

    FWIW, stamped knives are usually thinner than forged, and if they're made from a decent alloy (Forschner Fibrox and Rosewood are made from the same X50CrMoV15 as most high end Germans), will have better edge characteristics if only by virtue of their thinner geometry.

    For making thin slices, most (but not all) cutters do best with the offhand in the "claw" position using their fingernails as width gauge and their knuckle bones as a knife guide.  You have to place the knife in the right place to make a good cut. 

    Then, the big deal is to have a knife that's sharp enough to cut cleanly at the first touch so as not to smoosh the tomato or otherwise distort it; and which is also thinned well enough (a part of sharpening) so as not to "wedge."  Either will make you cut thicker. 

    One of the biggest things which makes the super thin Japanese knives so great is their ability to take an edge, and how sharp they act even after they're actually starting to wear.  But, as to specifically cutting thin tomato slices, technique, sharpness, and an appropriately thin or thinned knife matter more than what knife guys call "Kate Moss" thinness.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    For very thin, you'd probably want a specialty tool.

    Mandoline does a great job on very thin potatoes but a vegie peeler is no slouch either if the potato isn't too big.

    Depending on tomato type, a mandoline can work but is a failure on ripe juicy tomatoes. I often use a thin sharp Forschner utiliy shape in an 8 inch length for the that.But when I want a slice of tomato, extra thin is not often what I really want. Very thin slices is more about skill testing and ego for a home cook I think.

    There's that infomercial right now for ceramic blades. They show people (actresses) oohing and ahhing over these supposedly thin cut cucumbers and tomatoes. The people in that ad can't cut a thin slice to save their lives even with that knife. Nor does the ad ever give a purpose for these thin vegies.

    Of course, there are plenty of cucumber salads that  call for a drained thinly cut cucumber, but cukes aren't difficult to slice all that thinly, and again, the specialty mandolines and such do a great job for those that can't do it manually.
     
  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    or skills and a very sharp knife.
     
  5. titomike

    titomike

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    If your using a mandoline but not the safety thingy as we do...where is that thing anyway?...wear a latex glove as the blade will catch the glove before your fingers!

    Safety first.... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif
     
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Inexpensive mandolines usually don't do well for long with tomatoes.  Once the blades dull even slightly, the fruit is too soft to give thin, even slices.  They work better with crisper foods. 

    Better mandolines with sharpenable or replaceable blades are somewhat better; but still...

    You really can't beat a knife or electric slicer for 'maters, meats and other mushy stuff.

    As already said, there's really no point to slicing tomatoes too thin anyway other than to make friends, influence people and impress chicks. 

    Onions on the other hand...

    BDL
     
  7. foodpump

    foodpump

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    I've done caes adn cses of tomatoes on meat slciers and on a device called a "tomato wich"  Basically a cradle shaped comb that shoves the tomato through a series of serrated blades.

    Thing with tomatoes is the skin, when taut, it is quite tough for a not-so-razor-sharp knife to cut through it.  You can get thin slices with a razor-sharp knife, a bread knife (or a serrated blade), or my favoire "specialty tool:

    A B & D 'lectric knife.  Don't sneer at it, and don't use it on the Sunday roast, but for tomatoes it's ideal.  I use it for slicing caskes and pastries (every try to portion a 10"  freshly glazed strawberry or fresh fruit flan with a bread knife?) 

    Waaay back when, I did have a special "tomato knife".  It was a 8'' Victoriox Chef's with a bad nick in the middle of the blade.  The edge was decent sharp, but the nick would start the cut through the skin and then the rest was just easy slicing.   
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Are you operating a Wendy's or Mc Donalds?  Why that thin, they just fall apart and dry out if not used quick.
     
  9. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Are you operating a Wendy's or Mc Donalds?  Why that thin, they just fall apart and dry out if not used quick.
     
  10. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Are you operating a Wendy's or Mc Donalds?  Why that thin, they just fall apart and dry out if not used quick. There is a serated knife that has holes in the blade so tomatoes do not stick to blade.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  11. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Nor does the ad ever give a purpose for these thin vegies.

    Should be self-apparent, Phil. You can't drive a ceramic blade through a quarter. So they need something to make the knife look really special to people who don't understand knife work.

    I can't see using a mandoline for tomatoes. No matter how sharp, it really takes a moving blade for them. And, besides, as others have said, who cuts tomatoes than thinly?

    When I was on the job we'd use the electric meat slicer for cutting tomatoes. But part of our business was delivering sandwiches off-site, and that meant cutting a bunch of 'maters every day. The slicer made it fast, easy, and consistent. But for any normal quantity my Chef's knive is just fine. The trick, with 'maters, isn't a special knife; it's a sharp one.

    Most home cooks, I believe, do better with a serrated knife when cutting tomatoes. A bread knife, for instance, is a good tool for them.
     
  12. njcooksit

    njcooksit

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     I'll have to go along with the consensus here.

     Sharp knife, skilled hands. It's always worked for me.

     I have this clunky Old Homestead brand knife, that I swear I used to taper the stand end of a Christmas tree I had one year, that is still my best knife for the long slice. (That and a Cutco paring knife, man that thing can hold an edge)

     Truth is, my patience has gotten the better of me and I've learned to slice by chopping. It works great on the hard stuff and I don't sacrifice any of the uniformity, but I doubt the technique would work worth a hoot on tomatoes...

     On to Step One, where's that butcher's steel... (I actually noticed how worn my steel is, I have to replace it)

     Good point about slices sticking to the blade, you know, it's always something...

         Stephen
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2010
  13. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I have an 8" serrated tomato knife that my dad gave me after buying it from a door-to-door salesman. We're talking Ronco quality, it slices through steel, logs, brick and look how it goes through this tomato! Hole at the tip for hanging on a screw head. Forked tip like you see on other tomato knives. Cheap one piece handle. Only marking is Multi-Edge™ Stainless at the base of the blade. I've had it for 15 years, always run it through the dish washer. And you know what? The damn thing really does great on tomatoes! I use it more as a bread knife now though. I think the key is it is serrated, not so much the edge sharpness. I see other guys in the restaurant using serrated knives on tomatoes.

    But.

    For wafer, paper thin tomatoes, I reach for my Nenox Petty. I can slice potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc thinner than anyone else in the kitchen with a knife, mandolin or meat slicer.

    Just my 2 cents.

    -AJ
     
  14. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    Nobody wants a super thin tomato on a sandwich, but if I'm trying to get slices of striped roman tomatoes from my wifes garden to bend nicely in a fresh mozzarella rollotini, then they gotta be thin.

       On the sticking to the knife bit, I have seen knives with "nonstick" (I can only assume teflon coated) sides. Anybody ever use those? Seems like a gimmick to me, but it might reduce friction in the kerf. Imagine that would only matter in a thicker bladed knife going through a root vegetable.
     
  15. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Most of the time when you see a coated knife it's because the blade is made from a reactive metal.  At least in quality blades. It also shows up in cheap gimmick knives too.

    As the basic principle in teflon function is that it repels the Van der Waals bonds of water,  it does reduce "sticktion" in something like a tomato, but not so much in something like cheese.
     
  16. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I have not had the sticking tomato issue but perhaps that is because I draw my petty through the tomato, a difference in technique?

    I slice my tomatoes extremely thin for sauce vierge, so there are some needs for extra thin slices.

    -AJ
     
  17. iplaywithfire

    iplaywithfire

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    I can think of plenty of uses for thin tomato slices.  I have a couple knives that I prefer for getting thin slices (one is a fillet knife, and another is a utility), but I do not think it's a matter of brand, or anything like that.  As was said, sharpness is key.  Thinner blades can help to that effect.  I am not a fan of serrated blades in general, and I would prefer blanching and peeling tomatoes before slicing if I had to choose between those two options.
     
  18. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Originally Posted by AJ Huff  
    You're making it wrong -- or at least not in a way it's creator, Michael Guerard, would recognize.

    Whatever you learned in school, the "regular" way is to slice the stem end off the tomato; turn it on to its newly cut flat end; section the tomato into quarters (small tomato), sixths or eighths (big tomato); lay the sections flat; fillet them, discarding the seeds, soft flesh, and other gunky stuff; julienne the fillets and any interior flesh worth keeping (usually none); and finally brunoise the juilenne. 

    Slicing the tomatoes super thin to begin with means a lot of pulp in the vierge -- which pretty much goes against the point of a "virgin" sauce (vierge means virgin).  Guerard was a seminal figure in nouvelle cuisine.  Like darn near everything else from the movement, vierge should be very clean.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2010
  19. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Thanks BDL, my instructor did not point those details out to me. I appreciate the extra insight. Of course it still stands, I can cut paper thin tomatoes slices, I guess I just need to find another need. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    -AJ
     
  20. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    What was your teacher's technique for the tomatoes?  Cut 2mm slices, then "mince" them by rocking your knife with your offhand on the front?