Today's favorite thing is actually a collection of things. And those things are inexpensive stamped-blade knives.
The best knife for anyone is the knife you're comfortable using every day. There's no sense in spending hundreds of dollars on a German-made forged knife if it's not a comfortable extension of your hand. I've been using inexpensive Rada Cutlery knives for years and every time I try to upgrade to a better (read: more expensive) knife, I find myself gravitating back to my old stamped-blade knife.
And why not? They're cheap, lightweight, slice nice and thinly, and many of them hold their sharpness better than the best Wustoff carving knife. Plus, you can get away with using inexpensive manual sharpening devices that take just a little of the soft metal off and bend your blade back to a true point instead of spending money on expensive electric sharpeners or professional sharpening services.
Here are some of my favorites:
My family discovered these at a flea market in Pennsylvania some years ago. Now, they're thankfully available online. These are my go-to knives for just about everything. They also make one of the sharpest vegetable peelers you'll ever own.
The one downside of the Rada knives is that they traditionally came with a "silver" handle that tarnishes easily when exposed to acids. If you put it in the dishwasher, expect the handle to be permanently black within 2-3 washings. I left one in a salad bowl once exposed to salad dressing and it also discolored. They make most of their knives with black plastic handles now, so I recommend buying those when you can find them.
- Rada Regular Paring Knife
- Rada 8" French Chef's Knife
- Rada 10" Bread Knife - This thing is so sharp it'll slice right through your finger and bone before you feel it. Be careful!
- Rada Bagel Knife - A great all-purpose bread knife for smaller loaves.
- Rada Large Vegetable Peeler
I happened upon these at Sur La Table as I was at the checkout counter. They were marked something like 3 for $20. One thing about paring knives is that they come in a variety of lengths and shapes and you really need to find the shape and length that's comfortable in your hand. I like a spear-point stamped knife, which is hard to come by. This one fits the bill and is awesome
Victorinox Stamped Cutlery
Victorinox is world-famous for creating the "Real" Swiss Army Knife, but they also make some pretty darned good kitchen knives, too. Their commercial-grade stamped knives with plastic handles may not look pretty, but they continually hold their own against $200 knives in product reviews and tests from Cook's Illustrated and other publications.
- Victorinox 3.25" Paring Knife
- Victorinox Fibrox 8" Chef's Knife
- Victorinox Fibrox 7" Granton-Edged Santoku (Japanese-style Chef's Knife)
This sharpener from Rada works excellent on any stamped blade. It may not look like much, but a few quick swipes every few times you use your knife and it'll slice through a tomato like its nobody's business. No need for an electric sharpener or a silly honing steel.
Disclaimer: All opinions on these products are my own and I've purchased these items myself or received them as gifts from friends and family. I don't even receive a kickback from Amazon for the links, so feel free to buy from your favorite local kitchen supplier. They'll appreciate the business!