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What would you choose in a "one knife challenge?" [moved from Home Cooking]

kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 07:04 PM

If you could only have one knife in your kitchen, which one would you choose, and why?

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    brooklynkoshereater RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 07:12 PM

    ten inch chef knife - multipurpose - preferably the korin ubx-10 (one could always dream!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: brooklynkoshereater
      Kelli2006 RE: brooklynkoshereater Mar 17, 2010 09:33 AM

      My 8" carbon steel chef's knife.

    2. todao RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 07:13 PM

      Six inch chef's knife.

      1. kaysyrahsyrah RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 07:21 PM

        Why do I ask? Just curious. My answer, although boring, would be a forged 8" chef's, followed by a stamped 10 1/4" Forschner bread slicer. Followed by a stamped 8" cimetar.

        1. eight_inch_pestle RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 07:30 PM

          Big ole santoku. Altho that could just be because my Santoku is also my nicest knife.

          1. s
            SonyBob RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 09:01 PM

            7 or 8" Chef's knife with a full tang and bolster for easy handling.

            1. r
              runwestierun RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 09:45 PM

              8" Shun Ken Onion chef. I kiss it on the lips.

              1. Duppie RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 09:49 PM

                Global G2 chef's knife and then my $8.00 "Tong Ma" clever .

                1. bushwickgirl RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 15, 2010 10:18 PM

                  7" Santoku, it's my go-to.

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: bushwickgirl
                    paulj RE: bushwickgirl Mar 15, 2010 10:44 PM

                    A large paring knife.

                    1. re: paulj
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: paulj Mar 17, 2010 02:50 PM

                      Isn't a large paring knife is the same as an utility knife? I thought people hate that thing.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        Eiron RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 17, 2010 10:26 PM

                        Hate a good utility knife? I think my Shun 6" Utility is a great all-around knife. It's a much better design than the cheap, stamped-style utility knives most people are used to using. But I think the key point here is that it's a well-designed knife (actually a petit gyuto) made from quality materials, rather than a marketing addition to fill out a brand's set in a wood block.

                        1. re: Eiron
                          Chemicalkinetics RE: Eiron Mar 17, 2010 10:50 PM

                          Yo Greg,

                          Many people dislike an utility knife due to the design not the material. The argument goes this way: A paring knife is small and nimble. You hold it on your dominant hand and hold the food on the other hand. A paring knife is used to cut the food between two hands and not against a cutting board. For peeling, only 1-2 inch of the blade (near the knife heel) is truly used. For detail work, it is the tip being used. You know Chef's knives, so I won't bore you.

                          The problem with most utility knives is that they are neither. It is longer than a paring knife, but thinner and shorter than a Chef's knife. The extra length of an utility knife offer no advantage for peeling/cutting in mid air. So a 5" utility knife just get in the way for peeling. On the other hand, an utility knife is too short and narrow to be used as a Chef's knife. It is too short for many large item foods and most importantly, it does not have the knuckle clearance to be used on a cutting board. People cannot bring the knife blade all the way down without hitting their knuckles.

                          Shun utility knife may be better because it seems to have better knuckle clearance, but if you look at a typical Henckels or Wusthof utility knife, it is very difficult to use them on a board. Either you decide not to bring the full knife edge all to the board (in that case, it is the same as a paring knife) or you will hit your knuckles everytime:



                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            paulj RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 18, 2010 12:40 AM

                            The sandwich knife in this Kuhn Rikon set
                            is surprisingly useful. It has enough length to cut sandwiches and rolls. and enough width to serve as a spreader. The way around the knuckle clearance issue is to hold the blade at an angle, with just the tip in contact with the board, and slice through the item (like an onion), rather than chop or rock.

                            1. re: paulj
                              Chemicalkinetics RE: paulj Mar 18, 2010 07:15 AM


                              That is the point. To use an utility knife on a board, one would have to hold the blade at an angle to provide knuckle clearance, which also means only the first 2 inch (knife tip) is truly being used. As such, a shorter paring knife can also do as well.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                paulj RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 18, 2010 09:15 AM

                                Whether that matters depends a lot on what I am cutting and how much. In practice I tend to use a small knife for big knife tasks more often than the other way. If, for example, I start off with a paring task, it may be quicker, or simpler, to continue to use the paring knife for the chopping phase, than to switch to the bigger knife. Especially when working with small quantities (e.g. dicing a shallot v a large onion).

                                1. re: paulj
                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: paulj Mar 18, 2010 12:59 PM

                                  I agree. I don't like to switch knife. Then, I have to wash my hand, then my knife, then dry the knife... Although fairly quick, it interrupts the normal flow of food prep.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              Eiron RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 18, 2010 11:09 PM

                              Chem, I agree, it's usually a design problem. I mention the materials simply 'cuz most folks would never spend this much for a typical stamped/riveted utility knife. Better design is only part of the reason for the knife's high cost; better materials (& perfect warranty) accounts for the rest of it.

                              The petit gyuto ("petty") design of the Shun makes it far more useful than any other knife I've used in this size range. I've discovered it excels in every slicing task I've given it. I'd never go back to using a "regular" utility knife again.

                              1. re: Eiron
                                Chemicalkinetics RE: Eiron Mar 18, 2010 11:40 PM


                                I have to say that Shun does provide a nice product support program. Not only it offers a good warranty, but it also provide lifetime knife sharpening service for people who don't like to sharpen their knives. It is especially attractive if you own several Shun knives: shipping a dozen of Shun knives is not much more expensive than shipping one knife. If I own 12 Shun knives (which I don't) and I ship them out for factory sharpening every year, then it is like $80-$150 worth of free service every year.

                      2. re: bushwickgirl
                        Chemicalkinetics RE: bushwickgirl Mar 17, 2010 11:23 AM

                        Hmm, apparently, Rachel Ray is not as influential as I thought. Otherwise, there would have been more Santuko users here.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          paulj RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 17, 2010 01:00 PM

                          If I had to make a choice among larger blades, I'd choose a Santuko shape (no influence from RR on that). In fact as a compromise between large and small, I'd lean toward a 5" Santuko. That's what I keep in my camping gear, tough it isn't the only knife. But when camping I don't do a lot of chopping and butchering.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            bushwickgirl RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 18, 2010 01:43 AM

                            Well, RR's certainly not the reason I like them over a chef's.

                            1. re: bushwickgirl
                              Chemicalkinetics RE: bushwickgirl Mar 18, 2010 08:13 AM

                              Well, it is interesting that after I wrote about Rachel Ray, then all of a sudden, there are numerous new entries about Santoku.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                bushwickgirl RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 19, 2010 01:08 AM

                                I really don't think RR influences people's knife choices very much.;=)

                                Interesting thread; I've seen kitchen people (cooks) use paring knives for everything and chef's knives for things only a paring knife should be good for, to say nothing of how and for what slicers are used!
                                I think it's a case of to each his/her own. Whatever you're comfortable with and what gets the job done.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl
                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: bushwickgirl Mar 19, 2010 05:28 AM


                                  Actually that Rachel Ray thing is a tongue-in-cheek. :)

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    bushwickgirl RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 20, 2010 03:01 AM

                                    Mm, thought so. Your wacky sense of humor at work...
                                    I need a new boning knife, what's your recommend, money is somewhat of an issue, so I'm thinking $30 range. Japanese is obviously out, I guess.

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                                      Chemicalkinetics RE: bushwickgirl Mar 20, 2010 09:30 AM

                                      Hi Bushwick

                                      I have a Dexter Russell boning knife of the Traditional (wood handle) series. This is the one:
                                      Generally, I like wood handle, but I have to say maybe I should have gotten one with a larger knife guard (to prevent potential injury) and a plastic handle. Because boning food is always messy (for me), a plastic handle would be easier to clean and be sanitary.

                                      So I think these two may be better:


                                      Katom offers very low prices for Dexter Russell, but it takes about 2-3 weeks before you can get the items.

                                      Alternatively, I think this one looks really good. Paulfinest suggested to me. This is a Wusthof Butcher series boning knife.


                                      If you live in Canada, then you can buy it from Paulfinest. If not, here (I think amazon has the name wrong):


                                      You will have a nonslip sanitary handle with a large knife guard like the Dexter Russell knives. This Wusthof knife is made with a slightly better steel than Dexter Russell and Wusthof knives always have a more polished finish. It is also free shipping from Amazon, but it is currently out of stock.

                                      By the way, all of these are 6" stiff, but both companies offer 5" version and flexible (fillet) versions.

                                      So what boning knife do you have right now? or previously?

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        bushwickgirl RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 20, 2010 01:34 PM

                                        Thanks for all the info, I knew I could count on your recommendation expertise.
                                        I have a Wusthof 6" and it's just worn out; I've had it for 25+ years.
                                        Time for something new.
                                        I like the 6" Wusthof boner from amazon, it's similar to what I have and the price is right. I can wait on it, don't do much boning these days but it's good to be prepared for it. I may get a Wusthof 9" fish fillet knife while I'm at it. Then, no more knives. By the time my current collection is worn out, I'll be dead and buried.
                                        Thanks again. Happy Spring to you.

                                        1. re: bushwickgirl
                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: bushwickgirl Mar 20, 2010 03:07 PM

                                          Expertise no, recommendation yes. :)

                                          Yeah, I think I will buy that Wusthof boning knife when I give my current one away. The price is right and the quality is good. Although it is out-of-stock on Amazon, one can order for it now and Amazon will ship it to you when it is ready.

                                          Yeah, I can feel the Spring now. It is the first real warm day here. Happy spring to you as well.

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                          armagnac RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 16, 2010 05:05 AM

                          A 6" paring/utility non-serrated knife. You can slice, chop, and mince with it, though that would often be a pain, but you really can't pare with a 10" chef's knife.

                          It's an idle question, though, and nobody would live by the answers they give here, or needs to.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: armagnac
                            notthatfoodisimportant RE: armagnac Mar 16, 2010 03:07 PM

                            Okay, now I have major knife envy! I was going to say my 8" Wusthof Ikon cook's knife. But I also lust after the huge fish trimming/scaling and leg-of-lamb de-boning knives at my neighborhood market.

                            1. re: armagnac
                              Chemicalkinetics RE: armagnac Mar 16, 2010 07:52 PM

                              When I were in school, yeah, I really live by a "one knife" rule and I were in school for a long long time.

                              1. re: armagnac
                                pinstripeprincess RE: armagnac Mar 17, 2010 07:25 AM

                                then you must've never seen this!

                                forget the daikon test, this is masterful knife work that i could only ever dream of aspiring to.

                                now the coring part would be the bigger pain in the ass but i would still stick with my 8" chef's knife.

                                1. re: armagnac
                                  tim irvine RE: armagnac Mar 18, 2010 04:35 PM

                                  Actually, you can. Over the years I have found my 10" Thiers-Issard doing more and more paring tasks, peeling cukes, coring tomatoes, etc. It is so light and has a narrow enough blade that it does those things remarkably well. So unless it is hypertechnical job, like fluting a mushroom cap, I will more often than not just use the same knife for everything. The one job the 10" chef's knife will not do well is boning.

                                2. z
                                  zfalcon RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 16, 2010 06:26 PM

                                  Chinese style cleaver.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: zfalcon
                                    tcamp RE: zfalcon Mar 20, 2010 05:39 PM

                                    I wish I knew what to do with my chinese style cleaver. It is woefully underused.

                                    1. re: tcamp
                                      bushwickgirl RE: tcamp Mar 20, 2010 05:47 PM

                                      Well, here are some ideas to get you going:

                                      Google "how to use a Chinese cleaver" for more info. Happy chopping.

                                      1. re: tcamp
                                        Chemicalkinetics RE: tcamp Mar 20, 2010 06:04 PM


                                        Here is another youtube video. Push-cutting is the most common cut with a Chinese chef's knife, Nakiri, Santoku.... It is demonstrated as the first cutting style in the video. Although Chinese style chef's knife look alike, they can have varies thickness which lead them to different usage. Here are some Chinese chef's knives from CCK.


                                        The very thin ones (e.g. KF1101) are specialized for slicing and cutting. The thick ones, (e.g. KF1601) are for chopping through small and medium bone. The medium ones (KF1201) are most versatile but are do not excel at a particular job.

                                        Best wishes.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          bushwickgirl RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 20, 2010 06:16 PM

                                          So you need a variety of cleavers! At the very least a thin and a thick. These cleavers could make many other knives, with the exception of possibly paring, slicing and definitely boning, obsolete.

                                          1. re: bushwickgirl
                                            Chemicalkinetics RE: bushwickgirl Mar 20, 2010 07:08 PM


                                            :) Most Chinese households simply have medium blade ones. Medium ones should handle most jobs. Apparently, people at the knifeforums like the thin blade ones. I guess because the thin blade ones preform really well as vegetable slicers. The thick blade ones are pretty much the same as a western meat cleaver, so they are as useful/useless depending the cooks.

                                            The Chinese cleavers and Japanese Nakiri are very similar to each other, and Santoku is has its root in Nakiri. These knives all compete with each others and with the French's Chef knife. They are not a threat to the paring and boning knives.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              bushwickgirl RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 21, 2010 01:43 AM

                                              The cleaver I had was a medium one but heavy enough for smaller bones, pork ribs, chicken, etc. I did find it a bit clumsy (or maybe I was me and my technique) for vegetables but perhaps I needed more practice.
                                              I wasn't great with push-cutting when I was younger, having used only chef's, but I find I use that technique comfortably with my santoku now.

                                    2. Chemicalkinetics RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 16, 2010 07:48 PM

                                      A Chinese chef knife aka Chinese cleaver. Next a Santoku or a Gyuto?

                                      1. b
                                        bogie RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 17, 2010 10:51 AM

                                        Nenox S1 270mm Gyuto, it can do most anything.

                                        1. c
                                          chuckl RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 17, 2010 04:24 PM

                                          you can accomplish most cooking tasks with an 8-inch chef's knife if it's sharp. the pointy tip can act like a paring knife, you can use it to slice in a pinch, and you can chop up just about anything.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: chuckl
                                            paulj RE: chuckl Mar 17, 2010 05:15 PM

                                            For delicate work I'd rather have the cutting edge a couple of inches from my hand than 8.

                                            Paring a water chestnut is a good test.

                                            1. re: paulj
                                              tanuki soup RE: paulj Mar 17, 2010 06:20 PM

                                              For delicate work with a chef's knife, you can just hold the blade an inch or two from the tip.

                                              1. re: tanuki soup
                                                chuckl RE: tanuki soup Mar 21, 2010 12:02 PM

                                                it can be done, I've used a chef's for paring. It seems to me that this post started out being about which knife is the most versatile as opposed to which knife do you love. There's a difference. A lot of people are professing love for santokus, which is fine. I have several. But the shape of the knife would preclude any sort of paring type of cutting, whereas the spear point of a chef's is a lot like a paring knife. Like Tanuki says, you just have to hold it differently. It's fine to express your knife love, but that's not what this post was about.

                                                1. re: chuckl
                                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: chuckl Mar 21, 2010 03:38 PM

                                                  Since there is sheep foot paring knife, I won't say the shape of a Santoku excludes it from paring function.

                                          2. Quine RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 17, 2010 04:33 PM

                                            I would have to say my chinese cleaver. Before that it would have been my "short" chef also known as my big 'paring" and probably by most as a utility knife.

                                            1. tanuki soup RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 17, 2010 05:05 PM

                                              I'd choose my Glestain 7-inch santoku with the big scallops on the side. It's the knife I reach for most often.

                                              1. b
                                                BigE RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 18, 2010 07:58 AM

                                                Mac Santoku or 8" Shun chef's...love 'em both.

                                                1. s
                                                  Seitan RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 18, 2010 11:15 AM

                                                  My 9" Wusthof Grand Prix (original) Chef's knife.

                                                  1. l
                                                    lominator RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 18, 2010 06:50 PM

                                                    Hmmm, that's a hard one. Toss up between my Shun 7 inch Santoku or my 8 inch Mighty Mac Chef. Hate to give up either one of them.

                                                    1. tcamp RE: kaysyrahsyrah Mar 20, 2010 05:38 PM

                                                      7" Santuko followed closely by paring knife.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: tcamp
                                                        ChowTO RE: tcamp Apr 5, 2010 09:57 AM

                                                        I would pick a Mr Itou Gyuto 270mm chef knife....why?..cuz i have and there's nothing you can do about it...lol.

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