Would like a knife recommendation for slice thin raw beef

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by Xavier_1990, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. Xavier_1990

    Xavier_1990

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    Hi all,

    I am a home cook and I am looking into investing in a quality knife. I would like to use this knife to slice ingredients into very thin slices. For example, 1/16-inch or around 1 mm thick raw beef (and it is about 1 cm by 3m or 1/2 inch by 1 inch). Thin cucumber and carrot slices etc.

    My budget is ~$100 for the knife, and I wouldn't mind plus or minus about $10. (I have a generic whetstone and a honing steel that I got from Target, but should this be needed, I am willing to invest separately on a better stone and honing rod).

    And a little bit more information: I am right handed. I do not have much preference towards Japanese or German knives so I am open to suggestions.

    And additionally, here are some of my questions after reading many posts and specs of knives:
    1. Does the type of steel matter for functionality? (For me, cutting food into thin slices) I have read many good comments about VG-10 steel etc.

    2. My understanding of hardness of a steel relates to how long the edge can stay sharp. The downside is that the harder it is the easier it can chip. So should I not worry about one steel being a few HRC lower than another when thinking of its ability to slice? (I am thinking of 60 vs 57, or comparisons like that)

    3. Should I be concerned about whether a knife is forged or stamped? (Reason I am asking this is that I found that Tojiro DP gyuto are stamped steel while Wusthof ones are forged, and I recently found a wusthof le cordon bleu series knife being offered at similar price as the Tojiro gyuto. So naturally I wonder which one is of better value for the same price)

    Thank you all in advance for any suggestions!
    Xavier
     
  2. aliphares

    aliphares

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    If you want a knife to thin sliced things then you should be looking at slicing knives. They're thin and narrow which reduces drag. For under 100 (assuming you're going for the standard size of sujis, 270mm) you'll be looking at the tojiro DP and the fujiawara FKM (stainless) or the FKH (carbon. Be aware that it's made of SK4 carbon steel which until it settles can smell a bit due to the sulfur in it) I would also look at french sabatier (k-sabatier or thiers issard) also stainless or carbon, the carbon needs more care but it's well worth it, for me at least, especially with the sabatier.
    North of 100 there's a couple as well, such as the suisin high carbon or masahiro or togiharu, but I'm not sure how much more you're willing to spend
    Now for your questions:

    1) the type of steel does matter to some extent. Better steel will take and hold a better edge. However, it's more about how the steel is heat treated and formed. An expert knife maker will make a better knife with a cheap steal than a cheap knife would with a "better" steel. So yes it does matter, but I wouldn't say it's the most important thing.
    2) your understanding is correct. The softer steel will not get as refined but is also more forgiving. Generally youre not recommended to steel hard steels (HRC60+) you'll need to touch those up on stones. Softer steel can be honed and then sharpened on stones only when dull. But again this isn't the most important thing. You need to really learn how to sharpen to get the bat out of knices, or there won't be any difference felt. Basically, as long as it's hard enough, it isn't something crucial, but it matters.
    3) the whole stamped being less than forged hasn't been true since we landed on the moon. It used to be the case with cheap stamped knives but not anymore. Most mass produced Japanese knives are stamped and they're better than any forged German knife. It's all just publicity talk for knives. Stamped knives got good, they're no longer less than forged, unless you're buying very cheap knives.
    Sorry for the long reply but I hope I covered all your points, remember the most important thing is to keep your knives sharp. Invest money in good stones and time in practice. That's the most important thing, that, and having fun with it all!
    Ali
     
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  3. Xavier_1990

    Xavier_1990

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    Thank you Ali for such a detailed reply! I really appreciate your input. I am actually looking for a 180mm or 210mm knife (since I am not planning on slicing a very big chunk of meat). From your reply, it looks like I should not be looking at "general purpose" knives such as a chef knife or a gyuto, and instead I should be looking for slicing knife or sujihiki. Is this correct? In addition, should I also looking at carving knives? (It seems like carving knives are not exactly what I want from their descriptions, but I am unsure)

    Budget-wise, the Fujiwara FKM and Tojiro DP sujihiki fit my budget nicely. Masahiro and Togiharu would be a little bit stretch, but let me do a bit more readings :D

    Again, thank you for the suggestions!
     
  4. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Hi

    Selecting what knife to buy can be complicated - if you make it complicated. First and foremost, you are a home cook, which is fine. But, as a home cook, you are probably not going to be cutting the volume of ingredients that the pros cut. So, that gives you a lot more flexibility and can save you a lot of money. But, you do not have to sacrifice quality. Let's face it......pro or not, no one want their knife to crap out in the middle of prep.

    So, think of buying your first good knife the same way you would approach any other important purchase. I mean, its important to get it right because you're going to be using this knife a lot and you want to be happy with its performance. Think if it like you would a car. You want to get good mileage out of the edge and blade. You want it to be quick and precise, yet, efficient. You want it to look good and handle as well as it looks. And you want it to be comfortable for the those occasional long hauls. Sound about right? If so, read on. If not, well, I'm going to continue anyway because I have about 2/3 of a glass of wine left. :)

    First, you need to give yourself a serious evaluation in terms of where you are with your knife skills. Just because you are a home cook does not mean you do not have good knife skills. But, you have to brutally honest. Chances are very good these knives are going to be sharper than anything you have ever used before....as in scalpel sharp. So, make sure you are honest. Over-assessing your own skills could win you a trip to the hospital. Ask anyone here. We all have the scars from our own mistakes. :)

    Once you have given yourself a good and honest evaluation, figure out what sort of blade do you want. There is an inverse relationship between a blade's hardness and its ability to keep an edge. So, you have to keep that in mind. If you are looking to cut razor thin pieces of meat and vegetables, a thinner more flexible blade is the obvious choice. "Flexible" generally means softer steel and that means more frequent sharpening (by more frequent, I mean about once every 4-6 months for the average home cook). Just because the metal is softer does not necessarily mean the blade will chip. That depends largely on how you use it. For instance, I wouldn't use such a blade for chopping ingredients. I think you get the point (no pun intended).

    The next thing to look at is the handle. The handle is every bit as important as the blade. There is nothing worse than trying to plow through a metric shit ton of ingredients with a knife that is uncomfortable to use. So, this means you should look at the styles of handles and the different materials. Different materials function differently in the hand, especially over time or when the knife is being used during long stretches. So, there is a functionality vs. appearance ratio that you need to figure out. For my part, I am all about functionality. Appearance be damned. If the handle happens to look good too, great. But, everyone is different.

    Here is a link to a good article about knife handle materials. http://www.cutitfine.com/kitchen-knife-handles/

    So, the next thing to consider is blade length. A secondary condition that flows from this is the knife's balance. But, I will get to that in moment. But, here you have a bit of a dilemma. You want to be able to slice thin meat AND thin vegetables. If you are slicing roasts, turkeys, large pieces of fish etc, you are going to need a longer blade. The length of the blade only becomes important when its shorter than what you are slicing. Try slicing a 9 inch roast with a 7 inch knife. Its not wonderful. So, you want to make sure that whatever you choose is long enough to get the job done. You don't want a Katana sword, well, maybe you do, but, you don't want to use it to cut your meat or veggies. So, if you want this all in one knife, you are going to need a blade that is as long as the biggest protein you want to slice. If you are not slicing big roasts etc, then, an 8 inch slicer will do. But, if you are looking to slice larger proteins, you are going to need at minimum a 9 inch blade. A 9 inch blade will slice your veggies just fine but, its not going to be ideal for the rock chop. But, remember, the longer the blade, the more expensive its likely to be.

    With that said, balance is the next issue. Every knife has what I call a balance point. In other words, where would your finger be if you tried to balance your knife on it? Like anything else, where this point is preferred is usually up to the individual. But, generally speaking, some knives are blade heavy and some are handle heavy. For slicing, you may want to consider the balance point to be around where your index finger would go when you grip the handle. But, at your price point of about $100(+or-), you may not get that much of a choice. But, its good information to know when you start looking at higher end knives. :)

    Now, the next thing you should be looking at is the country the knife is made in. Germany is renowned for its cutlery and so is Japan. I have both and I can say with utter confidence they are equally good when they are taken for what they are and not for what they aren't. With that being said, you can get into all kinds of issues about the types of steel, carbon content, hand forged, stamped, stainless steel, Damascus forged, hand hammered, and get completely and totally lost, not to mention I only have about a quarter glass of wine left. If you had a several hundred dollar budget, I would get into this for you, but, at around $100, you're really not going to get much of a choice. But, that does not mean you can't get something of excellent quality for that amount. You most certainly can. So, let's skip the steel part.

    So, now you're ready to kick some tires. I would suggest looking at Wusthof. They are a very good German manufacturer and for around $100, you can get a superb knife that will last a lifetime. Wusthof makes a 9 inch carving (slicing) knife in their "Classic" series for about $129 that's very good and excellent quality. Its a little more than your stated price range but, its worth it, IMO. You can get the 8 inch version for around $119. The knife has moderate flexibility so you can work the blade around bone to some degree and its thin so it can make paper thin cuts in your veggies and proteins. The steel is good and the knife is durable so it will last a long time.

    You can check out Wusthof knives here: http://www.wusthof.com/products/knives#/1

    Mercer also makes a good knives and are very affordable. While you are there, take a look at Mercer's line of Japanese knives. They are very affordable and use VG10 steel. They may not have the flexibility that you may want, but, nonetheless, they are good quality for the money.

    You can check them out here. https://www.webstaurantstore.com/10859/mercer-knives-cutlery.html

    If you want to look at imported Japanese knives, you are likely going to have less of a choice at your price point for what you are looking for. Nonetheless, you can definitely find a 9 inch or so Japanese slicing knife for around $110- $120, give or take. Here are a few suggestions.

    https://www.knifemerchant.com/produ...MI5vXQ9dTA2QIVCJR-Ch2j3w7EEAYYASABEgIX9PD_BwE

    https://www.knifemerchant.com/produ...MI5vXQ9dTA2QIVCJR-Ch2j3w7EEAYYBCABEgLzjvD_BwE

    https://www.rakuten.com/shop/stealt...MI5vXQ9dTA2QIVCJR-Ch2j3w7EEAYYByABEgLzCPD_BwE

    Last, but, not least, sharpening stones. You can go to YouTube and fine a million helpful "how to" videos that will show you how to prepare and use sharpening stones. One good thing about sharpening stones is you really have to go out of your way to damage a blade when using them. But, you have to be precise and consistent if you want to restore a razor edge. So, get an old knife and practice, practice, practice.

    Also, knowing how to use honing steel is every bit as important as knowing how to use sharpening stones. If you haven't done so already, its a good idea to get into the habit of using a honing rod before you use your knife and before you put it away. That way, your blade will be ready to go every time you go to use it.

    Don't get carried away with honing rods either. The only thing you should really care about is length, especially with longer knives. A longer honing rod will give you extra surface to work with with your longer knives. It won't make a difference with a 4 inch pairing knife, but, it will with a 10 inch slicer. So, whatever you got at Target is fine. You could spend the extra money on a diamond honing rod, but, the minor difference that it will make is not worth the extra money, IMO.

    Anyway, my wine is now all gone :-( I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Everyone here is happy to help. :)

    Cheers!

    EDIT: Since I posted this before I noticed you said you are not looking to slice big chunks of meat, then, the 7.5 - 8.5 inch versions of everything I suggested will work just fine.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
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  5. millionsknives

    millionsknives

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    I cut what you describe for stir fry and probably thinner than you imagine for hot pot. Chinese cleaver for all those tasks. A slicer is no good for the veg especially carrots it will be thick and wedgy. The wide blade of a cleaver adds stability when slicing so it is easier to get more even thin slices. I am right handed and would point the edge down and to the left. make pull cuts and cut starting on the left side of the meat. Across the grain on a bias is what you want.

    Anyone with skills can do these tasks with any sharp knife. you dont need an expensive sujihiki for this.
     
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  6. aliphares

    aliphares

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    It doesn't have to be a a sujihiki, but I always prefer it for meats. A gyuto or as millionsknives suggetsed a Chinese cleaver (which is actually an all purpose chefs knife) work too. Hell if you don't have one you should probably start there.
     
  7. teamfat

    teamfat

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    No comment on knives, but just the observation that very thinly slicing meat at home is easier if the meat is slightly frozen, so it doesn't wiggle around.

    mjb.
     
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  8. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    IMG_2049.JPG IMG_2050.JPG IMG_2050.JPG
     
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  9. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    And just like that, @chefbillyb just invented cutlery porn! lol
     
  10. mike9

    mike9

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    Slicing meat that thin (ala carpaccio) is best done with meat that is semi frozen. Thawed it wiggles around too much for consistent thickness by hand. Other than that the Tojiro DP Suji does require thinning to perform at its best, bot that said if you are not a professional then a touch up of the OTTB edge should be fine.
     
  11. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Semi-frozen yes. Benuser's suggestion of going carbon here is really good advice. And especially for larger cuts of meat you do want a nicely stiff (some thickness to it) blade, though still thin at the edge. JKI's Kochi is well regarded here as a reasonably priced blade. Other mid-priced blades in stainless would be Tojiro HSPS and Takamura professional series. But the FKH will probably do nearly as well for a lot less.

    On another note, unless hand-slicing is part of the presentation and ambiance, consider a used professional rotary blade slicer. Make sure the blade are not worn so far that the sharpeners no longer have plenty of contact travel left, blades are expensive to replace.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
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  12. Xavier_1990

    Xavier_1990

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    Thank you guys so much for your suggestions and advice! I really appreciate them. I am quite curious about carbon steel knife as I have not used one before.

    What I had in mind are in fact thin sliced meat for stir fry and for Vietnam pho. I do have a Chinese cleaver, but I think its thickness makes the job a bit slower (probably because I am not that skilled yet:/ )

    Furthermore, I will try to semi-froze the meat before I cut them (this is not always possible due to my a bit erratic schedule and short time for cooking XD, but I am now thinking of preparing the slices one or two days ahead of cooking).

    I have some very limited experience sharpening knife (probably 4-5 times on my Chinese cleaver and a couple times on very cheap knives for practice). As far as I know, sharpening knives is a whole other topic on its own. As much as I want to get a good knife, I don't want to get into the "good knife" regime before I have the necessary sharpening skills to maintain them.

    Again, thanks for everyone's input!
     
  13. Xavier_1990

    Xavier_1990

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    I am going to get a knife from a used store for practicing :D

    Thanks for the over-a-wine talk! I learnt quite a bit from you and your references.
     
  14. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    You are very welcome! :)