~ Kyocera: How do I love thee? Count those blades!~
I am obviously not a stranger to knives and I own four sets of excellent quality ones. Knives are personal and every knowledgeable cook's or chef's opinion is exactly that. An opinion based upon their personal preference -- which is the way it should be. Knives are like buying a car: you have to test drive it, you have to like it after you do, and, you should research personal recommendations and published reports prior to making your final choice!
I always advise students to invest in the best knives they can afford because not only are they an investment that will last a lifetime, a high-quality super-sharp knife (or set of 30) are the most essential tools in the kitchen. My pride and joys are my carbon-steel Sabatier's, which, I purchased, a few at at time, about 20-25 years ago. I am sad to report, they have started gathering a bit of dust in my knife drawer. Why? Because of a relatively new kid on the kitchen chopping block: Kyocera ceramic knives. They have become, for the most part, my most-reached-for weapons-of-choice, and, the perfect complement to my steel knife drawer!
Since I started writing KE three years ago, I've been asked the same question enough of times (in different ways) that it's time for an answer: "Mel, what kind of knives are in your photos?", or, "Those knives look like plastic toys, what kind are they?", or, "Mel, how do you like ceramic knives, I've been thinking about buying one or two?".
I received my first Kyocera Santoku knife 8 years ago. It was a birthday gift from my husband Joe. He purchased it because it had a pink handle and pink is my favorite color. He had no clue this $70.00 gift would rock my culinary world and adjust my thoughts about knives -- he bought a 'cute gadget' for his cooking gal who has everything!
The back of each box boasts: "Our ceramic knives are the ultimate cutting tools for every day slicing of fruits, vegetables and boneless meats. The ergonomic handle provides for a comfortable and highly controlled grip. Simply hand wash or wipe clean with a towel. Use with a wood or plastic cutting board." "Our advanced ceramic is a material close in hardness to a diamond with a rock-like edge that will not roll like steel blades. The result is a razor-sharp blade that retains its original sharpness more than 10 times longer than steel knives." "Ceramic is a pure and healthy alternative. Unlike steel knives, ceramic blades will not transfer metal ions to food, nor corrode from acids or oils in fruits or vegetables. Ceramic knives will never rust." (Guess what? All true!)
The Advanage of Ceramic (from a cooking gal's point of view):
From the moment I sliced a tomato with the precision of a surgeon I realized how special this knife was. I 'shaved' an onion (paper thin), and it excelled again. It glided through vegetable after vegetable, soft and hard ones, and, it minced garlic and herbs too. The knife was well-balanced, allowing me to make even slices, and, because of its light weight, there was no hand fatigue after prepping large quantities.
It performed the same way with boneless cuts of meat too -- uncooked (raw) or fully-cooked -- perfect slices every time!
Note: Only use ceramic knives to prep/carve boneless cuts. Scraping bones, or twisting/torquing motions, cause the blade to chip or break.
After almost a year of daily use and proper care, my knife was almost as sharp as the day Joe bought it. If the knives ever need sharpening, Kyocera does it for free -- all you have to do is send it/them back to the company. Just as I was beginning to think I needed to send a couple of them back, I spotted a Kyocera electric knife sharpener in a local cookware shop, The Kitchen Kaboodle. Katie, the owner of the store, told me it was a new product and I was buying the very first one from her store, and, if it didn't perform up to my standards, to return it. That didn't happen!
Purchase what you prefer, but, for my two cents, if you are looking to add a superb knife to your knife drawer, or, buy someone a great gift, consider ceramic. I volunteer my time to teach cooking classes to retired/elderly folks -- they adore the ceramics because they are light and maneuver with almost no effort!
Ceramic knives do one thing better than any steel knife: They slice with demonic ease!
They effortlessly slice vegetables precisely, and so thin you can see through them!
Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013