Steak Knives Serrated or Fine Edge? Quality VS. Table Manners.
Have you ever wondered why most steak knives are serrated and not fine edge? The answer may surprise you. The worst cutting surface on the planet is glass. Nothing will take an edge off a knife faster than a glass cutting board. What a lot of people don't realize, is that 98% of all glaze in all plates sold in America is glass. This means that when you take a fine edge knife and cut into a plate, you are in a sense cutting on a glass cutting board and ruining the edge of that steak knife. When you use a serrated steak knife and cut into the plate, the only part of the blade that touches are the tips of the serration. So the knife stays sharp. So in other words, people use serrated steak knives in this country because they have terrible table manners.
The reality is that if quality is important enough to you to change a couple of your cutting habits, then fine edge is the way to go. You will then be able to enjoy your steak to its fullest potential. It comes down to two issues, moisture retention and texture. Moisture retention is keeping the juice in the meat, and not letting it end up at the bottom of your cutting board or plate. When you use a fine edge knife, a clean cut allows the capillaries in the meat to contract and retain the juice. If you use a serrated knife, then you tear into the meat, and the juice escapes. This goes for a roast or turkey as well. Have you ever cooked turkey and cut into it and had juice run all over which made you think that is was going to be moist, and then it wasn't? The reason it wasn't, was because your just tore it open and let all of the moisture run out. A truly sharp fine edge knife would prevent this. By the way, a traditional yanagiba rocks on a turkey or roast.
The second advantage a fine edge knife can offer is texture. The smoother the cut, the better the flavor transfer is to your pallet. It is like pasta and sauce. Have you ever noticed that spaghetti tastes awful with cream sauce, and that fettuccini makes tomato sauce taste totally bland? The reason is how the noodle delivers the sauce to your tongue. That is why there are so many pasta shapes, and why chefs are so particular on which one they pick for their special sauces. The Japanese chefs use ingredients that are so delicate in flavor that texture becomes paramount. This is why they are so careful to maintain the edges of their knives. With the cost of beef these days, and the flavor lost due to current diets and hormones given to the cows, having a fine edge knife can make the difference between enjoying a steak, and having it blow your mind.
The key to using a fine edge steak knife
is to draw the blade toward you, and lift the meat as you get almost to the bottom with your fork, then finish the cut. If you do this, your steak knife won't get dull, because you aren't cutting into a glass surface. So as you can see, it isn't an issue of convenience, but an issue of table manners. Today, beef prices are at a premium so if you want to enjoy that expensive cut of meat to its fullest, then you have to use fine edge Steak Knives