Whether you are a 5-star chef or a home cook, the right knife is a must-have in your kitchen. When it comes to fillet salmon knives, you need to pay even more attention to the selection.
A good choice should feature a sharp blade, solid handle, and other factors to cut a large fish into thin slices. The question is: what is the best fillet knife for salmon to invest in? Scroll down to learn in detail!
How Does A Good Fillet Knife Benefit Your Cuts?
Though Gordon Ramsay uses a utility knife instead of the specialized one for slicing the salmon, it is not a good idea for home cooks. Sticking to the fillet knife until you reach a professional level would be best. Still, his instructions showed the importance of keeping the blade clean and sharp.
When working with fresh salmon from the sea, I always prepare a sharp blade to remove scales and cut through bones and ribs. Put away the chef’s knife or bone cutters since they all make your task harder. These options fail to make clean cuts quickly, as expected. Hence, you may end up with a mess or nasty flesh.
I then continue with a thin fillet knife for a quick slide between the fish’s skin and flesh. The razor-sharp and flexible blade nibbles close to the outer layer and takes out the maximum amount of flesh without tearing them.
But if you are preparing big salmon like Chinook, a serrated knife will come in handy to cut through its bones and ribs rather than a fillet knife, which is dedicated to work with delicate flesh.
What Defines The Best Fillet Knife For Salmon?
Small size (4”- 6″) only goes well with small fish like perch, mackerel, or walleye to control cuts and limit overkill. But you should never use this size for salmon, as even the smallest salmon measures 20-25 inches in length.
Many pro chefs like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay usually use a 7-to-8″ fillet knife for small or medium-sized salmon. For bigger ones, you can increase the length to 9-10″.
Most home cooks equip the blades in the average 7”- 8″ length for their task since they don’t frequently work with huge salmon.
However, if I could only choose one, my favorite would be an 8-inch knife. This model neatly handles both large and small salmon with little fuss. It generates the medium force for maximum user-friendliness and efficiency.
The biggest difference between high and low-quality blades is the durability and quality of the metal used. Inexpensive options tend to wear out quickly and fall apart from the handle after a short period of use. They tend to tarnish and lose their edge since each sharpening equals a small amount of metal being lost.
After a few years of cooking, I also learned a big lesson: a first-rate knife is a smart investment when you are often out fishing. As soon as the salmon leaves the ocean and lands on your boat, you begin to show off your skills with your knife. This means it is right exposed to saltwater until you complete the cuts.
For this reason, I always recommend high-carbon stainless steel blades. The anti-corrosion outer layer keeps the construction in healthy condition, even when it gets wet. This is a real relief for those who love sashimi or raw salmon, resting assured that the flesh is completely safe and hygienic to eat.
As an integral part of the knife, the handle plays an important role in its function. A good choice which equals reliable construction, determines grip, comfort, and smooth execution, especially when filleting large salmon.
For these benefits, most fishmongers focus a lot on materials. There are a total of three options available to you. The most familiar – wood has appeared on the market for a long time, but rubber and plastic dominate the market today.
Modern users discover major drawbacks of wood – its slippage and lack of control under wet conditions. As a result, it carries dangerous risks while you try to create meticulous details. Additionally, wooden handles tend to absorb unpleasant odors from raw food, which makes it difficult to disinfect and clean.
In comparison, molded plastic and rubber solve the troubles of bad smells and germs. Their other pluses are good traction and resistance to corrosion. Hence, you can expect it to last longer with proper maintenance.
The rubber handle would win my heart if I had to choose between these two. My hand holds on to the handle better as it is adjustable. Hence, the knife never leaves my fingers and moves as smooth as butter.
An important tip for your purchase is to look for those with beveled areas where the handle meets the blade. It is also ideal for recessed finger holds. These features reinforce slip protection while enhancing leverage.
Note that this design was born for medium-sized hands with relatively equal fingers. An oversized hand does not fit into indentations, so that the user may feel cramped and uncomfortable.
Flexibility & Hardness
A flexible blade contributes to your control over the entire knife. Smooth movement is a prerequisite to reach the fish flesh along the spine without breaking its structure. A tip here is to slightly bend the knife to see if it curves about 1 inch in both directions. More or less than this flexibility can’t yield the best cuts.
However, you hardly feel the difference between the high-end and low-end tools until its tip enters the area around the ribs.
Even as a novice cook, I find a knife from a trusted manufacturer extra versatile. The blade maintains its shape without pressure but curves slightly to wriggle into the narrow slits close to the ribs under impact.
On the contrary, I sometimes make mistakes with cheap knives with too flexible (if not flimsy) blades. When I apply more force from the handle, the tip curves into a wavy or S-shaped line. As a result, it goes too deep into the fillet and tears the surface off. It even breaks fish bones, so you have difficulty finding trapped debris.
The salmon cuts might live up to restaurant quality if your knives achieve optimal sharpness. Surely no one wants to move a knife back and forth across a surface with a dull blade. This ruins your fillet as the texture and even the internal structure of the flesh get trampled.
Instead, the tip should slip under the bone or close to the skin and move in a straight line. It is challenging to test the hardness when you have not used the knife for a while. Fortunately, you can check it using the Rockwell scale. A good option should never rank below the 55-61 average.
Style (Or Brand)
Today’s market has two types for your preference: Japanese and German. The first option, also known as deba, comes out on top when you look for the optimal hardness. A single beveled face and a small inclination angle allow anglers to make cuts with absolute precision.
Meanwhile, German or Scandinavian knives are famous for their ridges that keep food from sticking to the blade. These tools come with thicker surfaces and larger weights. As such, they achieve better durability and resistance to outdoor usage conditions.
There are so many options today that choosing the best fillet knife for salmon on your own may be difficult. Fortunately, you only need to focus on certain factors and find the right tool for thin, beautiful slices of salmon sashimi.
Several manufacturers now serve electric knives with fixed blades. They are larger, more powerful, and more expensive. Honestly, I’m not fond of this option much because it is inconvenient for fishing trips, and controlling it is quite a challenge.