What Makes a Steak Knife?
Of all the knives that you can own for your kitchen, one is often overlooked and really shouldn’t. I’m talking about the steak knife. A useful tool in its own right, but it is rarely mentioned when discussing knife sets for chefs. If you already have a knife set, but not a set of steak knives then I would suggest you consider adding them to your collection.
But what kind of steak knife should you buy? Are there really that many different steak knives to choose from? What exactly makes a perfect steak knife for your kitchen? Well, here are some answers to the questions you have about steak knives.
What is a Steak Knife?
A steak knife is a knife that is specifically designed to cut through the meat of a steak easily without resorting to hacking or shredding the meat. This ability also prevents you from spending more time cutting versus savoring the steak you painstakingly prepared.
Steak knives are made to more powerful than your average table knife, which is why they can be a welcome addition to your knife collection. They also aren’t only made with steaks in mind. They are a great tool in also cutting chops and chicken breasts.
Serrated or Non-Serrated Edge?
A feature of the steak knife that can usually set it apart from other knives is its blade’s edge. This is because more times than not the steak knife’s edge is serrated, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Whether or not you choose serrated or non-serrated steak knives all comes down to what you intend to use your steak knives for.
Serrated Steak Knives
Serrated steak knives tend to be the more common of the two choices available to you. A serrated edge means that the blade has a sharp ridged tooth-like appearance, much like a small saw. These sharp ridges can also sometimes be called scallops or gullets.
When you use a serrated blade it allows you to cut through meat with a tougher exterior, but with a juicer interior. Much like a medium well-done steak that you want to perfectly cut into bite-size pieces.
When using a serrated steak knife you will use a more saw-like motion versus simply applying pressure with the blade. Thus making the cut more like a clean tear into the meat.
An added bonus to using serrated steak knives is that they tend to last much longer. This is due to having less of an exposed edge because of the saw-like ridges.
Straight Edge Steak Knives
As the name implies, a straight edge steak knife has a sharp straight blade similar to that of a paring knife. The key difference is a steak knife blade will be longer and thicker. The straight edge steak knife is meant to be used in one stroke versus a saw-like motion required for the serrated steak knife.
If what you are going for is the look of your steak, then the straight edge will give you that smooth clean cut from your steak and will not tear at the meat fibers. If a basic knife that cuts meat is all you require then a straight edge blade would be an added benefit to your knife collection.
However, an important thing to note is that a straight edge does not have the same longevity as a serrated knife. If you do decide on a straight edge steak knife you will want to learn how to sharpen the blades. This will keep your straight edge steak knives in good condition and will most likely extend their shelf life. It is suggested then that you sharpen your straight edge steak knives at least once every two weeks.
Finding the Right Balance
When looking for a good set of steak knives balance might just be the furthest thing from your mind, but can in fact play an important role in your selection. This, of course, doesn’t mean that the steak knife needs to be perfectly balanced with the weight of the blade, but there are other factors of balance that you should consider.
- Is the knife’s handle proportional to its blade?
- Is the blade’s position straight or coming at an angle?
- Is it comfortable to grip and to hold?
Most of these features can easily be discovered by handling the knives themselves before you decide to purchase. You can also usually spot an imbalance even if you are purchasing your steak knives online.
Either way, you will want to get a good feel for the knife from the handle to the blade before picking a steak knife set for your kitchen. Many housewares stores even have handles on display without the blades in order to test your grip and to get a better feel for the handle itself.
Another important part of looking for the best-balanced steak knife is to look for the “Fit” of the blade or how well the components that make up your steak knife fit together. You don’t want a steak knife that has a visible gap between the blade and the handle. Your steak knives should look seamless.
In fact, high-quality steak knives should have a “Fine Fit”. This will add to the steak knife’s strength and rigidity. It will also mean owning a knife that can prevent unwanted particles and moisture from getting into your knife’s handle causing rust or shortening its lifespan.
How Long Should The Blade Be?
The length of the steak knife’s blade is also something to consider. Steak knife blades can range from five inches to seven inches
While many restaurants opt for the longer blades you may find that a shorter blade is the way to go. This is because short steak knife blades are easier to control producing better quality cuts of your meat. Longer blades are used in higher-end restaurants for the way they appear laid out on the table more so than their function in cutting the meat on your plate.
There is also an added flexibility to using a shorter blade. Longer blades have a reputation of being more difficult to use and ultimately may not give you the cleanest of cuts.
The Material of Your Steak Knife
While older steak knives used to be made from carbon steel it is more common now to find them made of stainless steel. Stainless steel is known to be not only durable but also rust-resistant. This is important if you intend for your steak knives to have a long lifespan.
Though you may not have many options outside of stainless steel there are different kinds of stainless steel that are worth mentioning.
- High Carbon Stainless Steel
- Cold Stainless Steel
- Tempered Stainless Steel
High carbon is the most lightweight of the three options making it more flexible when in use. Cold steel will be easier to keep clean and high carbon is for those looking for a more robust steak knife. Whichever stainless steel you decide to go with you can be comforted by the fact that each will last you a long time.
Whatever steak knives you choose to use in your home or display in your restaurant we hope that these tips will guide you to the best option for you. Remember it is best to select a set of steak knives that has all the right elements for you and your steak versus by how they look on your table. This way you can be guaranteed a fantastic steak cutting experience.