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jeffshoaf

Almazan Kitchen Serbian chefs knife

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Like many of you, i have a bit of a knife fetish that I'm trying to keep under control. Unlike many of you, I'm doing a pretty good job of keeping it under control, but I've been sorely tempted by the Almazan Kitchen Serbian chefs knife. If you're not familiar with these, wander over to YouTube and do a search for Almazan Kitchen; you'll find numerous videos of a guy in Serbia cooking out in the woods or in a rustic kitchen and using a wooden-handled knife that resembles a rustic cleaver with a rounded blade. The videos show them using the knife for everything from chopping wood to flipping and serving food to slicing and chopping ingredients. They sell these knives on their website; i don't know if this is a traditional knife in that region, but there are a lot of different manufacturers offering similarly styled knives now.

Since i have two full sets of kitchen knives (a Wustof trident set I've had for close to 30 years and a newer set of Shun stainless steel), I've  been resisting these Serbian knifes, but my sister recently  gave me one as a late retirement gift (I retired last year but she has been in some financial difficulties and recently got some relief). They offer both stainless and carbon steel versions; mine is the carbon steel.

The on-line reviews often say the knives are extremely sharp right out of the box; mine was not - at least not in comparison with my Shuns. I put a quick edge on it using a diamond stone but didn't spend a lot of time on it; that helped some but it still wasn't as sharp as shown in the videos. i took a bit more time this afternoon and dug out my Edge Pro sharpening system to bring it up to snuff. I'm happy to report that the results are impressive; i quickly brought it up to a very usable degree of sharpness that rivals the out-of-box sharpness of my Shuns - and it was much easier to get there than it is to sharpen the extremely hard stainless steel of the Shuns. I don't expect the edge to last as long on the carbon steel knife but i don't yet have a feel for it. i don't see this as being a big deal unless it dulls very quickly since it's so easy to bring back an edge.

The knife handle is attractive and fairly comfortable. The blade thickness is somewhere between the widths of my Shun and Wustof chefs knives and doesn't flex. There's a slightly wider section on the spine near the handle that allows you to use your thumb or index finger to apply more pressure when needed; this feels a little odd when i use my normal knife grip and pinch the blade but it's not uncomfortable.

The blade shape takes some getting used to. As mentioned earlier, the shape is similar to a traditional cleaver except the blade is rounded; i haven't used a nakiri but i think the Serbian knife probably feels like a thicker version of one except for double bevel on the Serbian knife. I have a heavy Wustof cleaver i use for chopping meat and bone but the Wustof is substantially thicker and heavier and not suitable for slicing or general kitchen use like the new knife is.

While substantially lighter than the Wustof cleaver, it's noticeably heavier than my Shun and Wustof chefs knives. It feels well balanced. After sharpening, i sliced up some very ripe peaches. The knife seemed to slice through the peel and flesh of the peaches without me applying any noticeable pressure; i assume the weight of the blade applied sufficient pressure. If you've cut very ripe peaches  before, you know that it's easy to mush up the flesh while cutting through the peel if the knife isn't very sharp or if you don't use enough slicing motion for the amount of applied pressure; i tried several slicing motions and didn't experience any of this mushing.

While the Alzaman Kitchen videos show the knife bring used to peel fruit and veggies, i found the width of the blade uncomfortable for peeling the peach slices so i grabbed my Shun paring knife. I think I'll get more comfortable using the knife for this finer work as i get used to the width of the blade.

My conclusion: While i don't think this will replace the Shuns as my kitchen workhorse knives, i think i will use it extensively for some jobs and i will make it my primary knife to take outside for use at the KK and other grills instead of my Wustofs . Since i have the optional sheath, I'll have less concern with lugging and potentially dropping other knives or having an exposed knife lying on a table or shelf outdoors. it performs well enough to replace several knives while cooking and serving outside. It's definately a nice addition to my knife arsenal and it's rustic appearance and different design will certainly be a conversation starter.

Edited by jeffshoaf
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I checked out the website, and it claimed a hardness of 58-60 HRC. This will be much harder than your stainless blades. If you use a sharpening angle of 12°-15°, you’ll have a very nice cutting tool that will hold an edge for quite some time. I highly recommend you use only quality edge grain, or synthetic cutting boards, and stay away from bones.

It likely seemed easier to sharpen because the harder steel burrs, instead of rolling back and forth, making it harder to actually create an edge. Get a jewelers type magnifying glass and you can see what’s happening while you’re sharpening, or check out you tube..just make sure you’re watching someone using stones.


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4 hours ago, 5698k said:

I checked out the website, and it claimed a hardness of 58-60 HRC. This will be much harder than your stainless blades. If you use a sharpening angle of 12°-15°, you’ll have a very nice cutting tool that will hold an edge for quite some time. I highly recommend you use only quality edge grain, or synthetic cutting boards, and stay away from bones.

It likely seemed easier to sharpen because the harder steel burrs, instead of rolling back and forth, making it harder to actually create an edge. Get a jewelers type magnifying glass and you can see what’s happening while you’re sharpening, or check out you tube..just make sure you’re watching someone using stones.


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I looked up the rating for the stainless steel in my Shuns and it's rated at 60-61 HRC. I would have thought the would have been a bigger difference than the 0 to 30℅ this indicates.

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21 minutes ago, 5698k said:

I didn’t realize VG 10 was so hard..I guess that’s why knife makers use it!

This is a puzzle for me.

In each of two kitchens (my wife's home in California and my work apartment in New York) I have a set of three Fujitake chef knives and a Tojiro DP 3-Layer Chinese Cleaver. Since adopting the cleaver I rarely use the other knives. One can learn to do everything with a cleaver.

I sharpen my knives with an assortment of Shapton Glass stones. A deep dive reveals that one can buy Shapton Glass stones tuned for original, softer Japanese knives, or these stones for more modern formulations such as VG 10. I had noticed on previous stones that it was nearly impossible to sharpen western knives, while the Shapton Glass stones handle western knives easily. This is that hardness issue, again. Somehow I'd made it years without worrying about it, but I'm better off knowing.

So here's the puzzle: Nominally all of my knives are VG 10, yet it seems that I manage to get my cleaver sharper than the other knives.

 

Edited by Syzygies
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Are you free hand sharpening? If so, it could be nothing more than the way you happen to hold the cleaver compared to others. I don’t believe it’s the stones necessarily, I use shapton glass on all my Japanese knives with excellent results.


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39 minutes ago, 5698k said:

Are you free hand sharpening? If so, it could be nothing more than the way you happen to hold the cleaver compared to others.

Yes. On one hand, people overthink the angle thing, what matters is how often we sharpen, not how perfectly we sharpened last year.

I go entirely by feel. It's very easy to feel when one has slipped back to the point where the edge isn't making proper contact, or when one has slipped forward to the point where digging into the stone is an immediate risk. The sweet spot is somewhere right in the middle between these extremes.

I work in a quiet room (other than the dribble of the faucet). I use an Atoma diamond stone to smooth the surface of my Shapton Glass stones frequently, often between knives. Perhaps I secretly want to actually wear out a water stone in this lifetime. More likely, when the stone is very smooth it gives very good tactile feedback as to how the knife is riding. A just-polished stone is like waterskiing a glassy Adirondack lake at dawn.

There is the potential for a feedback loop, here, taking my knives off course: The feel each time I sharpen has everything to do with how I sharpened last time. My chef's knives may have drifted, while for some reason my cleaver sharpening is spot-on.

Further evidence for this theory is that I'd already noticed I can get the 8" Fujitake chef's knife sharper than the 10" Fujitake chef's knife. In both kitchens. I'd always assumed it was something different about the knives, but this could be a reproducible experiment coming down to how I hold each knife as I sharpen.

A variant on your theory: While the VG 10 core is the same, the cladding varies on the different knives, and how straight each edge is. Both of these would affect the feel while sharpening. I go for "what feels best" while sharpening (an apprentice Japanese woodworker asks how to cook the rice for rice glue? So it tastes good), but this may serve me better on some knives that others.

There have been many reasons I've craved a good microscope. This would be one. A really sharp knife is actually more serrated than a dull knife. Whatever we imagine, we're all really just using bread knives.

Edited by Syzygies
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On 7/26/2021 at 10:52 AM, Syzygies said:

2033553283_ScreenShot2021-07-25at7_49_04PM.thumb.png.557c93b4b72b903632ac60a8b7cfd690.png

Easy Popcorn Shrimp | Recipe | Almazan Kitchen

Now that's a knife.

My cleaver hasn't left my hand, despite owning many knives. "Unlike many of you" ?? I resemble that remark!

I watched the popcorn shrimp video.. Am I the only one who wondered why he's out in the woods in the mountains cooking seafood?
Those shrimp are not from the stream nearby!  ;-) 
Things that make you go Hmmm...

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