Obviously, a steak knife is used to cut steaks, but you don’t just use it to cut steaks. It is a sharp table knife, usually used to cut cooked meat. Since meat is more difficult to cut through than many vegetables, steak knives tend to be sharper. Many steak knives are also serrated so that they do not need frequent sharpening.
Do you need a steak knife?
Generally, yes. Many vegetarians feel that they would not need to use it, but the name is deceptive. Many people also use steak knives to cut hard or crusty bread, or vegetables with tough skins. A sharp steak knife will prevent you from having to waste time and energy.
Choosing a good steak knife
When choosing a steak knife, you should pay attention to the following attributes if you don’t want to waste your money.
- Balance—While it is often difficult to check the balance exactly, especially now that we do so much of our buying online, you don’t really need a perfectly balanced knife. This isn’t a samurai movie; you just need to make sure your knife blade isn’t going to break away. So look at the relative sizes of the blade and the handle; look at whether the blade comes out of the handle straight, instead of at an angle, and whether the handle looks like a comfortable fit for your hand—not too big or small to hold and work normally
- Blade type—There are three basic types of blades for a steak knife
- A straight edge is like a normal edge. Most blades have this sort of edge. This requires sharpening more often than a serrated edge
- A serrated edge. These edges zigzag and are very sharp. Never run your fingers along the blade, the cuts will be awful. These are very popular because they keep a sharp edge much longer than a straight edge. However, they are very difficult to sharpen because most methods of sharpening will wear away the geometry of the edge
- Hollow-edges are edges which have straight blades but with hollow indentations like scoops in the body of the blade. When you slice with these, because of the indentations, there are air pockets formed between the knife and the food and the food will not stick to the knife. It gives cleaner and easier cuts. Hollow edges are not very common and very difficult to sharpen at home
- Fit—A knife with a good fit should be put together well. The blade and knife should fit perfectly without any looseness. If there is any space, then moisture and air contaminants will shorten the lifespan of the knife
Why do you need to sharpen a knife?
Not only will it save you time in the kitchen to have a sharp knife that will slice easily, it is also a safety hazard to have dull knives. A sharp knife is less likely to slip off the material being cut and hurt someone.
Also, since you will need to use more force with a dull knife, when it does slip off, it’s more likely to cut deep. It is also faster, not to mention easier, to cut things with a sharp knife. Otherwise, you may as well use a cheap table knife.
Many mid-range steak knives are made with the thought that they will be thrown away after years of wear and tear make the edges too dull to bother using. However, even if you don’t want to waste time trying to contact the manufacturer and get your steak knife sharpened, there are other options.
How to sharpen a steak knife
For expensive sets of knives, it is generally recommended to go to a professional. Many people will recommend going directly to the manufacturer as they will be able to keep to the specifications exactly.
For cheap steak knives, you can use them for a few years and then use them for jobs that don’t need a lot of sharpness, or even just throw them away and buy a new set. It feels like a waste, but often the cost of sharpening them is not worth the hassle or the money.
For mid-range knives, if you want to sharpen them yourselves, you will need some tools. One option is to go to a professional to get a basic sharp edge and then use a strop to clear away any burrs.
Another option is to do it entirely by yourself. You will need a whetstone. For serrated edges, it is very difficult to do it yourself and keep the geometry, so experiment with a knife you don’t mind destroying.
For a sharp edge, you will want the blade to be at about 20 degrees on both sides. Using a whetstone, wet the edge with vegetable oil or something non-toxic, and keep at it until the blade is balanced on both sides. Once the dull edge is gone, use a strop (or make one out of an old leather belt) to clear our any burrs or disturbances along the edge.
It is not very easy to sharpen steak knives, but it can be a rewarding experience to be able to do such a task on your own.