My 2019 plan to become a better cook/cook more. Guidance welcomed

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by Shri, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. Shri

    Shri

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    Hi

    I cook once or so a week and looking to increase that in 2019 and want to improve my knife skills and cooking skills. Currently own a cooking by Calphalon knife set and just bought a Victorinox paring knife.

    Plan is to get some cheap knife Mercer Millennia , a King 1k or 1k/6k stone and practice sharpening and once skills improve buy something better (care much more about function than form). Though from research on this forum not sure thats a good idea and maybe better to buy a Mac MB 85, or a Tosa from hidatool or Tojiro ITK/some other japanese carbon knife.

    I did have a Global chef knife and paring knife but a couple of years ago gave it to some friends who cooked a lot more.

    I mainly cook indian/vegetarian and knife skills not very good I do try to use a pinch grip. So far have sharpened with either a chefs choice 110 or an accusharp.

    I live in the bay area and could try and take a class with Bernal or Town Cutler. Currrently laid off so don't want to spend too much money. If some member is near me and would like to help me learn sharpen of course much appreciated.

    On a random note, think if somehow there was a meetup to meet other folks interested and test out knifes, share advice etc would be awesome

    Happy 2019 to all

    S
     
  2. Shri

    Shri

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    and PS. ok with buying a knife used too, if that offers more options.
     
  3. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Two suggestions:

    1. Learn to sharpen what you already have... as good as they can be sharpened.

    2. Cook (and cut food) more often.

    Worry about new knives a bit later. The better your knife skills are, the better choice of better knife you’ll make.
     
    rittenremedy, Niftynorm and sgsvirgil like this.
  4. Shri

    Shri

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    Thanks much, solid advice.

    S
     
  5. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Also, check out Jacob Burton’s Stella Culinary on both web and YouTube. Video lessons of knife technique, cooking technique, and some really decent recipes. Basically a free cooking school without tuition or abuse. This is a good way to learn how a real working chef thinks and executes. Some of his knife opinions and sharpening techniques may differ from what some Internet forum knife geeks preach... but is consistent with that of many working cooks. Learn and decide for yourself what works best in your circumstances.
     
    dectra likes this.
  6. Shri

    Shri

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    Thanks appreciate it and will do
     
  7. Patch

    Patch

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    Many years ago I went shopping for golf clubs at what ended up being a very good shop. I had golfed a lot as a kid but had been away from the game for close to ten years. The clerk grabbed a few clubs for me to try. I couldn't detect any difference between them. He suggested that I take some lessons and think about buying clubs after I'd learned more about proper technique.

    This would seem good advice for most any activity in which you have limited experience. The specific knife you use is unlikely to significantly impact your abilities in the kitchen. So, +1 to what brianshaw said. Use what you have and keep dreaming about the knives you want to get someday.
     
    rittenremedy likes this.
  8. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Every now and then, run a mental dialogue of your own internal cooking show.

    Explain to yourself the technique, the ingredients, why the prep is done that way and how it plays into the final dish. Why that pan type, size and heat setting.

    See if you can offer up alternative substitutions or ways to repurpose the leftovers.

    This will reveal to you what you know, araes you might look into understanding better and so on. Of course just because you know a word doesn't mean you understand it as well as you should either.
     
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  9. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Like anything else, the amount of quality practice you put into it largely determines how well you do something. Cooking is no different. If you cook once a week, that's not really going to help you develop good skills. I think you know this already. :)

    If you want to start improving, you have to spend more time in the kitchen. You're going to burn things, probably ruin a pan or two and probably cut and/or burn yourself a few times along the way (not seriously, I hope). If you stay with it, learn from a quality source, before you know it, you will start seeing results.

    I agree with brianshaw. Learn the basics first before you start worrying about things like knives. But, remember.....whatever knife you use, make sure its always sharp. Cuts and injuries with knives begin with dull blades.

    Good luck. :)
     
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  10. Shri

    Shri

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    Part of why I wanted to buy a knife was that something thats better/and can get sharper will lead me to cook more too. (I am not sure my knives are super sharp, I do use the accu sharp to sharpen them, but not sure thats as sharp as they can get/or if knives in general not just my knife with my tools is the limit)

    Definitely cooking more in general (I cook mostly indian) and also practicising knife skills and prep skills more than 1x a week will help and planning on doing so.

    Thanks all

    Great site and really appreciate all the advice.
     
  11. Patch

    Patch

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    Why not have your current knives professionally sharpened? That would answer your question about whether a very sharp knife will help you and it's certainly going to be cheaper than buying new knives.
     
  12. Shri

    Shri

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    Yup good idea to at least do that on one knife so I know how sharp I can get and if thats good enough.

    More cooking on the way

    S
     
  13. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    That’s the right attitude! Sharp knives are essential and safer to use, but they really don’t need to be as sharp as a straight razor to cut 99.9% of food being cooked. Be reasonable in your expectations, match expectations to needs, don’t ignore desire if that really is different from reasonable expectations but most of all... cook. Learning to cook is about cooking, not geeking out on hardware. But decent hardware often makes cooking a better experience. :)
     
  14. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Something to consider. I haven't fully made up my mind on the technique. Need more practice. Seems like it would reward a low/non belly knife like an Asian chefs knife/cleaver more than a French or certainly a German profile.



    Be open to new ideas.
     
  15. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Interesting video. Thanks for sharing.

    Quick point: what she jokingly calls "the dreaded parallel cut" is much easier with an usuba, which has a more or less die-straight edge. So I'm not sure I'm convinced by your supposition.

    On the other hand, I note that wedge cutting like this is actually a well-established usuba technique, sometimes called kushigata-giri (くし形切り, comb-shaped cutting), so possibly this is just irrelevant information....
     
  16. Patch

    Patch

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    I have always had an issue with the parallel cut. I'm reasonably confident in most knife-related tasks, but that parallel cut has always made me nervous. It seems inherently unsafe. You have to put pressure on the top of the onion to keep it in place, but that works to bind the knife, which already has a lot of drag working against it. I'd add that the chef's knife also seems the wrong instrument for this cut, but who wants to grab a different knife for just those two or three cuts.

    Doing more than one or two such cuts or cutting all the way through the onion also seem unnecessary if you look at the layers being cut through. If you go with the parallel cuts, coming in from either side of the onion through the first three or four layers should be sufficient and result in less drag and less need for pressure holding the onion in place. It's more cuts since you need to come from both sides, but they're shallower and should be a lot faster.

    I've taken to doing two or three fan cuts on each side from the bottom working up, and then shifting to vertical cuts for the rest. This results in reasonably consistent pieces without feeling like I'm about to sever an artery.
     
  17. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    This is exactly why an usuba is so good for that cut: the blade is ridiculously thin, for a start, and the back is concave. So it slips through the onion very easily. I will say that if your knife is very, very sharp, you need almost no pressure on the onion. But I'm sympathetic to the problem!
     
  18. loomchick

    loomchick

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