Photograph: Courtesy retailer.
Once I went off to my first restaurant kitchen internship greater than a decade in the past, my boyfriend on the time, a cook dinner, lent me his personal first chef’s knife. Together with it got here a lecture on easy methods to maintain it and a lesson in correct sharpening. That boyfriend and his knife are historical historical past, however I internalized the just about sacred place that knives normally — and particularly the chef’s knife, which can be utilized for nearly something — occupy within the kitchen. The knife is an extension of your hand. It’s an extension of you.
Once I graduated from faculty a 12 months later and had my first actual job and wage, it was time to put money into a grown-up knife for myself. After cautious analysis, I landed on a handcrafted Japanese blade with a shiny hardwood deal with and a gently rounded “stomach” that rocks oh-so-smoothly over veggies and steak. I went on to make use of it for all the pieces, from unnecessarily elaborate dinner events to slicing an apple on the fly earlier than dashing out the door. The knife has moved with me from New York to Los Angeles to Philadelphia, then again to New York once more. In my hand, it simply feels proper.
However right here’s one thing that feels truly sacrilegious to confess: so do the colourful ceramic knives on this set of six that prices lower than $24. I found them many boyfriends later, once I received engaged and was on the lookout for comparatively cheap objects to incorporate on my marriage ceremony registry. I added them on a whim, largely based mostly on their glorious critiques. When the knives arrived, gifted by a cousin, I believed that the perfect factor about them can be their enjoyable rainbow shades.
However no, there was rather more. For one, these knives are extremely sharp. Ceramic blades are constituted of zirconium oxide, additionally known as zirconia, which is considerably harder than chrome steel or carbon metal. Instantly, I observed that they didn’t decide up funky smells (an enormous plus for me, since I cook dinner with quite a lot of garlic); over the previous 12 months, they haven’t rusted up one bit. However they’re additionally featherlight — about half the burden of my Japanese knife. The chef’s knife within the ceramic set has turn into a way more interesting possibility once I wish to slice open an avocado for toast or throw collectively a fast lunchtime salad; the zirconia’s sharpness makes it ultimate for chiffonading basil leaves into skinny ribbons or dicing vegatables and fruits from the farmer’s market. Past the chef’s knife, the serrated blade within the set is my go-to for slicing bread and bagels, and the paring knife is ideal for smaller duties like deveining shrimp and mincing shallots. The lot of them have turn into one among our most-used marriage ceremony items.
Not that they’re excellent. Their hardness is accompanied by brittleness, in order that they’re undoubtedly not for slicing meat on the bone or making an attempt to hack by something frozen. And whereas I do really feel a way of oneness with the intense plastic handles in my grip, the handles are nonetheless … plastic; a distinctly much less serious-feeling expertise from slick ebony wooden. However, then, I suppose the revelation for me right here has been that not all knife work must be so severe. That and the sharpening factor: I by no means mastered that ability, regardless of what my former boyfriend tried to show me. And thus, my ceramic chef’s knife is definitely sharper than my Shun. Despite the fact that it’s theoretically extra inclined to chipping and breaking than Japanese metal, I throw the set within the dishwasher with each use and it’s remained in glorious form.
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