I’m always cutting food. Whether I’m making sushi for my family or slicing meat and veggies for delicious stir-fried pork fried rice, I always find that having a sharp knife makes the job significantly easier. For this reason, I’m always sharpening my knives with my blade sharpener, and from time to time, I like to take my knives out to get sharpened professionally.
It’s actually said that one of a cook’s most important skills is keeping their knives sharp, and I’m inclined to agree with this saying wholeheartedly. Not only is sharpening your knives regularly an essential skill to have in your figurative toolbox, but having knives that cut cleanly is also crucial, and for this reason, I love to use a hollow edge knife in my daily food prep.
What is a Hollow Edge Knife?
So that you understand, this type of knife doesn’t actually have a hollow point – the term hollow edge is just a way of explaining that the blade of the knife is designed with concave edges in it. These concave hollows are evenly spaced so that the blade itself is thinner at the edge than would be achievable through more traditional grinding processes. A blade of this type is often referred to as a granton blade or a Wusthof nakiri knife due to the fact that the companies Wusthof and Granton are two of the world’s most famous manufacturers of these knives.
In addition to the fine cut, the hollows also have a tendency to make the food that you’re cutting stick less to the blade, which means that you’ll have an easier time cutting through most meats and veggies with a single stroke. The only drawback of a knife of this type is that the blade might not be quite as strong as other knives, which means that these might not quite last as long through extended use.
The Foods that Granton Blades Cut Easiest
Personally, I cut up a lot of foods that might cling and catch onto my blade, so a blade with these scalloped edges can really come in handy.
For example, I tend to cut a lot of fish when I’m making soups or meals like sushi, so my cuts must be very precise. The scallops on the blade will actively prevent the meat from tearing because the blade can move more freely through the meat that it’s cutting.
In any situation, here’s a list of foods that a blade like this can cut cleanly through without catching:
- Fresh seafood
- A wide variety of cheeses
As you can see, this type of hollow edge blade is particularly versatile compared to other types of knife grinds, and since the blade will prevent catching, there’s a safety component as well – you’ll simply have more control over the cutting process.
How to Sharpen a Hollow Edge Knife
While you can sharpen the edge of a hollow edge knife with a standard stone or flat hone, these types of blades have historically been sharpened using a stropping technique. This technique uses a leather strop to hone the blade to razor-keen sharpness. Stropping has been used for millennia to sharpen blades; in fact, if you’ve ever seen a barber sharpening his razors on a leather belt, then you’ve witnessed stropping.
Stropping is also advantageous because of the fact that it helps you avoid forming grooves on the edge of the blade. Standard stones or flat hones have a tendency to form these, and these grooves can quickly wear away the quality of the blade.
Here’s how to strop a Wusthof nakiri blade or any other hollow edge knife. Using a leather strop, place your blade at the desired angle – typically, I go with a 15-degree angle so that my blade edge is very sharp. Using a very balanced and controlled drag, pull the blade very slowly along the stropping leather in a backward motion. Remember, it’s essential that you keep the correct angle during the entire process.
Flip the blade at the end of your leather, and repeat the process in the opposite direction. Repeat this process until your hollow edge knife achieves a sharpened edge. In most cases, at least for me, this takes about seven or eight passes.
What to Look for in a Good Hollow Edge Blade
Not every blade of this type is created equally, which means that you should definitely execute a bit of due diligence before you purchase a new knife. I’ve had a lot of experience with mediocre knives, and I learned pretty quickly to spend a couple of extra bucks for quality rather than suffer through a blade that just doesn’t do the job.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some traits that a good hollow edge knife has:
- Strength – As I mentioned previously, these blades aren’t typically as strong as standard knives, but that doesn’t mean that strength isn’t something that you should seek out in your new blade. As a rule, it’s a good idea to seek out blades constructed of strong steel so that there’s minimal chance of flexing or wobbling. These blades are designed to be precise and sharp, so control is of absolute importance. In addition to standard steel, strong blades are often made of:
- Carbon steel
- Forged steel
- High-carbon stainless steel
- The more dimples, the better – The famous santoku-style dimples that are found on these knives are there for more than just decoration – they are there to make the knife’s cuts through meats and veggies seamless. This feature ensures that an anti-suction environment is formed, which makes your cuts more precise, and juicy or sticky foods won’t be able to adhere to the metal or ceramic surface.
- Tallness makes your job easier – When you have a taller blade, you can depend on your cuts being more precise. This is because you’ll have more blade area to control the cut, which means that you’ll be able to achieve the paper-thin cuts that Wusthof nakiri blades are known for. A longer blade also makes it easy to scoop up the food that you’ve cut. Have you ever been to a Hibachi grill? You’ll notice that the chefs there use their blades to serve up their food – in most situations they are using hollow edge knives to accomplish this.
There’s a ton of practical kitchen applications that you can use a good hollow edge knife for, and in my experience, these blades should be in every chef’s cooking toolbox. They cut finely, they are versatile enough to be used for any style of cuisine, and they can last for years if you maintain them. I hope this guide helps you find the Granton blade that can make your food prep much simpler.