Most people have used a steak knife at least once in their lives. Even if you’ve never had steak. Even if you are vegetarian. Steak knives aren’t only used to cut steaks, even though that’s what people call it, probably because steaks can sometimes be tough to cut (although they shouldn’t be; if they are, they haven’t been cooked right!)
What is a steak knife?
A steak knife is a table knife that is sharper than the usual knife, and is usually used to cut meat, which is generally a more difficult task than cutting vegetables. Before stainless steel, knives needed to be sharpened because they would keep getting blunt.
Then came stainless steel and knives with longer-lasting edges. Then came knives with serrated edges, which may be more difficult to sharpen, but they also kept their edges for far longer. Steak knives tend to be of this sort.
Quality of a steak knife
There are many things to look for when you’re checking the quality of a steak knife. For instance, everyone will advise first checking the balance and fit of the knife before moving on to looking at more specific items.
While it is not as important when buying top-quality sets, which will have great fit and balance, most people are satisfied with a cheap or mid-range set because that is enough for the average enthusiast who doesn’t plan on being a chef.
- Balance—See whether the knife blade is too big for the handle, whether the blade is jutting straight out of the handle, or whether it is bent and might cause trouble later on
- Fit—A decent fit is simply one where the handle and blade settle in perfectly. If there are gaps, then moisture will get in and cause rusting, or there may be bending in the blade on one side
But most important, of course, is seeing what type of steak knife you want!
Types of steak knives
Steak knives are broadly categorised into three types, depending on the blade type.
- Serrated edge—Unlike normal knives, these have a zigzag shape. These have become the most popular type of steak knives because they keep their edge for a long time. However, they are very difficult to sharpen and cannot be sharpened at home because the geometry is so precise
- Straight edge—This is the same sort of edge that knives that are not steak knives have. These dull quicker but can be relatively easily sharpened at home
- Hollow-edges—Edges which are straight at the end but with hollow indentations, which create air pockets between the knife and whatever it is cutting, thus not letting things stick to the knife. These are very difficult to sharpen and should generally be sent back to the manufacturer for sharpening if you want to keep it functioning well
Advantage of owning a good steak knife
With a good set of steak knives, you can save yourself time and hassle. They keep their edges sharp for a long time and don’t need to be often sharpened. Many people buy relatively cheap steak knives that will last for years and then simply replace them once the blades have grown dull. The knives last long enough to make this economical, but wasteful for the environment.
A dull knife is not only more likely to slip off whatever is being cut since you will be using more force so as to cut it through, but the force of the knife is also likely to cut someone, most likely you, but any bystander in your kitchen or at your table is also at risk.
What to look for when buying steak knives
This can be summed up very simply:
- Price—The price must be right. If you want a top-quality kitchen, get a top-quality set but be prepared to pay for maintenance as well
- Quantity—Steak knives come in sets from four up to eight or more. Figure out what you will need to use them for, and don’t just go for what is flashy. You’ll end up regretting the wasted space in your kitchen drawer
- Type—This has already been discussed in detail, so you can decide what you like
- Warranty—Many companies will give warranties for the best-quality sets for some circumstances like rust, corrosion, and so on. Take a look and compare before you buy
So now you know what steak knives are and what you can use them for. They are not just for steaks! Go out and get yourself a nice, sharp set of steak knives and show off to your friends when kitchen work becomes half as hard as usual.