Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

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pcavaliere
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Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by pcavaliere »

I am a home cook with self taught knife skills. My default is rock chopping for shorter product. Push/pull on bigger.
I am beginning my journey on trying to find the right japanese knife. Been using a hand me down german knife upto now.
Bought a japanese blade only to find out it excels at push/pull and not good at rocking. I'm not gel'ing with it.
Should I focus on changing my cutting style or find a japanese knife that suits my current style?

jmcnelly85
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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by jmcnelly85 »

I would take some time to get used to it, it may lead to developing more rounded cutting skills in the long run. It took me a bit to figure out how to rock with a Japanese knife.

pcavaliere
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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by pcavaliere »

The other thing that I'm curious about is that it seems chef's prefer japanese steel for sharpness and retention. I also figured that Chef's school teach the traditional french rock choping technique. Is there a transition for most.

Robstreperous
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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by Robstreperous »

In addition to jmcnelly's advice above it'd help if we knew what knife you bought.

Some JKnives are fantastic pure rockers. Some are only push/pull. It depends on the knife's shape.

I have one knife I love I only dig out for rocking. Others do it all. Yet others could only rock if they were laying on that chari on your grandmother's porch.

Around here folks prefer JKnives for pretty obvious reasons. But there's no univesal consensus I'm aware of.

pcavaliere
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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by pcavaliere »

Robstreperous wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:17 pm
In addition to jmcnelly's advice above it'd help if we knew what knife you bought.

Some JKnives are fantastic pure rockers. Some are only push/pull. It depends on the knife's shape.

I have one knife I love I only dig out for rocking. Others do it all. Yet others could only rock if they were laying on that chari on your grandmother's porch.

Around here folks prefer JKnives for pretty obvious reasons. But there's no univesal consensus I'm aware of.
I went all out and bought a Konosuke 240mm SKD Tsuchime Kurouchi with a burnt chestnut half octoganal handle. Push and pull cuts through product like butter and the knife is gorgeous. I can't rock chop with it. I'm not gel'ing with it and considering selling it.

pcavaliere
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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by pcavaliere »

I should also mention that Mark recommended the Kohetsu HAP40 for its shape, which would be good for rocking.
https://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohawagy21.html

Thinking of selling my Konosuke to buy this one.

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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by Robstreperous »

Knives are very personal tools and Konosuke has a huge following around here. I'm not the best person to comment on the various Konosukes though.

You should probably wait for feedback from the guys who know them better.

That particular Kohetsu is very well regarded.

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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by Drewski »

pcavaliere wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:08 pm
I should also mention that Mark recommended the Kohetsu HAP40 for its shape, which would be good for rocking.
https://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohawagy21.html

Thinking of selling my Konosuke to buy this one.
I have a Kohetsu HAP40 with a beautiful semi-custom handle that I would trade you for the Konosuke :D

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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by salemj »

Good advice already above: it is always good to expand one's technique, but there are also plenty of Japanese knives that excel at multiple cutting styles (including rocking), so you could always try something different.

As for "chef's," training, preferences, etc.—this is all very fluid and constantly changing. If you are researching this on your own, you always need to be very careful about dates and context. The way chef's and schools and training is discussed after about 2010 is extremely different than earlier, and chefs who were trained earlier can be resistant to those changes, whereas others are not (Gordon Ramsey is very resistant to such changes, whereas Jacques Pepin was super excited to embrace new Japanese knives once he learned about them, but also had such ingrained muscle memory that he never adjusted his technique. But if you watch Top Chef, you'll see many younger people with totally different skills and training, often with Japanese style knives, who have as much or more technique than Ramsey on any day.).

But more than this, there is a HUGE difference between what chefs are trained in "cooking school" versus actual chef cutting technique. Cooking school techniques tend to focus on types of cuts in terms of geometry and, occasionally, certain common foods. But many chefs with the best knife skills use different techniques that extend from other cuisines or other specific tasks (especially protein specific ones, such as mastering filleting whole fish versus trimming aged beef versus sashimi cuts or charcuterie). And beyond this, the best knives skills I see are always more related to knowing how to deal with ingredients rather than abstract things like "a push cut" or "rocking." I think many people would agree that the most impressive knives skills are knowing how to use a knife to break down an ingredient in the best way. Most of those skills have nothing to do with fast, repetitive cuts on the board (push cuts or rock cuts), and much more to do with lots of different knife work that varies depending on the size and scale of the food and the cooking techniques of the dish. The easy part is the rapid slice or mince, the harder part is turning a squash into rectangles to rapid cut in the first place.

So yes, there is a "transition" for most from early training to broader skills, but I think this has a lot less to do with using Japanese knives and a lot more to do with developing a broader technique based on ingredients and cuisine rather than mastering 2-3 standard cutting styles on a cutting board based on the processing of mirepoix, herbs, and chicken.
~Joe

Comments: I'm short, a home cook, prefer lighter, thinner blades, and own mostly Konosukes but have used over a dozen brands.

pcavaliere
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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by pcavaliere »

salemj wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:11 am
Good advice already above: it is always good to expand one's technique, but there are also plenty of Japanese knives that excel at multiple cutting styles (including rocking), so you could always try something different.

As for "chef's," training, preferences, etc.—this is all very fluid and constantly changing. If you are researching this on your own, you always need to be very careful about dates and context. The way chef's and schools and training is discussed after about 2010 is extremely different than earlier, and chefs who were trained earlier can be resistant to those changes, whereas others are not (Gordon Ramsey is very resistant to such changes, whereas Jacques Pepin was super excited to embrace new Japanese knives once he learned about them, but also had such ingrained muscle memory that he never adjusted his technique. But if you watch Top Chef, you'll see many younger people with totally different skills and training, often with Japanese style knives, who have as much or more technique than Ramsey on any day.).

But more than this, there is a HUGE difference between what chefs are trained in "cooking school" versus actual chef cutting technique. Cooking school techniques tend to focus on types of cuts in terms of geometry and, occasionally, certain common foods. But many chefs with the best knife skills use different techniques that extend from other cuisines or other specific tasks (especially protein specific ones, such as mastering filleting whole fish versus trimming aged beef versus sashimi cuts or charcuterie). And beyond this, the best knives skills I see are always more related to knowing how to deal with ingredients rather than abstract things like "a push cut" or "rocking." I think many people would agree that the most impressive knives skills are knowing how to use a knife to break down an ingredient in the best way. Most of those skills have nothing to do with fast, repetitive cuts on the board (push cuts or rock cuts), and much more to do with lots of different knife work that varies depending on the size and scale of the food and the cooking techniques of the dish. The easy part is the rapid slice or mince, the harder part is turning a squash into rectangles to rapid cut in the first place.

So yes, there is a "transition" for most from early training to broader skills, but I think this has a lot less to do with using Japanese knives and a lot more to do with developing a broader technique based on ingredients and cuisine rather than mastering 2-3 standard cutting styles on a cutting board based on the processing of mirepoix, herbs, and chicken.
Wow. That was very insightful. Thanks for the reply. I stopped watching food shows about 10 years ago after most went the way of game show style. Maybe that's why I didn't see a transition. I'm going back to start watching Top Chef now to to see the knife skills.

pcavaliere
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Re: Rock Chopping Style and Japanese Knives

Post by pcavaliere »

Drewski wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:58 am
pcavaliere wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:08 pm
I should also mention that Mark recommended the Kohetsu HAP40 for its shape, which would be good for rocking.
https://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohawagy21.html

Thinking of selling my Konosuke to buy this one.
I have a Kohetsu HAP40 with a beautiful semi-custom handle that I would trade you for the Konosuke :D
I'll send you a PM.

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