I need to get a nice sharp knife, mostly for chopping vegetables; any suggestions?
We like our Shun knives, but they are way more expensive than you need. The “best” knives on the market are much cheaper. So, as beautiful as the Shun knives are, you can spend a fraction of their cost to get a great set of knives.
Generally if you only have one kitchen knife, you want it to be a utility knife. I’ve noticed that a lot of “knives you must have” lists on the internet disagree with me on this, instead saying that you should have a chef’s knife and a paring knife, but we use the utility knife all the time both to slice and to pare, and we pretty much never use our paring knife. We actually have two utility knives, our beautiful Shun knife and a more moderately priced Kitchen Aid version. Henckels and Victronix both get good ratings online. Note that these are sometimes listed as small chef’s knives instead of utility knives. Generally you want 6 inches.
If you have two knives, then you should get a chef’s knife if your hands are big or a santoku if your hands are small (I love my santoku, DH usually uses the chef’s knife instead). Victronix again wins accolades for the chef’s knife. Seriously, Cook’s Illustrated raves about their 8 inch chef’s knife which is now ~$40 rather than the $27 it was when their ratings came out. For santokus, it may be worth paying the extra money to get Shun or Wusthof. Note that you chop differently with these two types of knives (the Santoku doesn’t rock)– you may want to watch a video or two if you’re not used to the kind of knife you end up with.
If you get a third knife, it should be a bread knife if you like to eat a lot of bakery-style bread. We decided on this one from Tojiro for my little sister after discovering her hacking through artisan bread with her chef’s knife at Christmas. At $18 it is a bargain.
Then maybe a paring knife (we never use ours though).
And that’s really all you need unless you want one for carving turkey.
One item that we really appreciate having is an electric knife sharpener. If your local farmers market has a knife sharpening station where they sharpen by hand using a stone, that’s probably going to be better for your knives, but there’s a lot to be said for getting a quick sharpen at home and just replacing the knife a few years earlier than you would had you gotten them professionally sharpened each time, since you will still get decades of use out of the knives. There are a lot more options now than when we got ours, but Chef’s Choice is still the sharpener people recommend. I bet you can get away with the $40 version, but there are also $180 versions which I hope will carve at angles for you (something you would need for hunting knives, but not so much kitchen knives).
Grumpy nation, what knives do you love? Which ones do you regularly use? How do you keep your knives sharp?