The Japanese Knife is created from the same folding and forging of metals used to make the Katana (Samurai sword) dating back to the 14th century. There are many Western-style knives from Japan like gyuto (chef’s knife),sujihiki(slicing knife) and yo-deba (Western version of a deba). Japanese knives tend to have thinner blades and the types of steel that Japanese manufacturers use tend to be harder. You may think that Japanese knives would be harder to sharpen because of that, but because of the thickness of the knife, it is usually easier to sharpen Japanese knives. You have to remove a lot more steel on thick knives to make it sharp again.
The main difference is that traditionally, Japanese-style knives often have a single bevel edge and are made with carbon steel (not stain-resistant). Japanese knives are modeled after katana swords, and are either made with carbon steel and a softer iron put together (kasumi) or with one single piece of carbon steel (honyaki). Many people claim that traditional Japanese knives are much sharper because of the single bevel but also because of the amount of carbon in the steel. They are more prone to rusting, but they have better edge retention and superior sharpness. Using a sharp knife to make precise and fine cuts has always been vital in Japanese cuisine because a lot of food is served in its raw state. It is much harder to mask poor knife skills when the food has not been cooked and altered. For more information visit www.chefslocker.co.uk A Few Japanese knife styles to look out for:
Gyuto knife – The Japanese Chef’s knife – Gyuto’s vary widely in design but generally range from 210mm to 270mm in length. Tall at the heel, a reasonably flat profile and a gradually curved blade lending itself to an effective rocking motion on the board. For most users a Gyuto is practically the only knife needed in the kitchen. Read more
Petty knife – The same a western paring or vegetable knife used when the Chef’s knife is just too big for the job. There are some jobs where a smaller blade is called for – Peeling fruit, segmenting an orange, carving meat off a small chicken all involve a more delicate touch which you could do with a Chef’s knifebut it’s just much nicer and safer to do with a smaller blade.
SANTOKU– Typically smaller than a Gyuto and more versatile. Roughly translated as “three uses” relating to its three main uses; slicing, dicing and mincing. You don’t use it with a rocking action Instead it’s more of a chopping/slicing motion. Many Western cooks (including me) are now replacing there traditional Chef knives with a Santoku.
NAKIRI/USUBA Thin and sharp, like most Japanese knives, the flat cutting edge and square cut tip make this perfect for chopping and a dicing vegetables. The wider squared blade is often used to help scoop and transfer your chopped vegetables to the pot. The Usuba has a more curved blade.
SASHIMI/YANAGIBA – Traditional style Japanese slicing knives that typically have a face sharpened edge, meaning they are sharpened mostly on one side for a much sharper cutting edge. Sashimi knivesare used primarily by Sushi chefs to thinly slice fish but the knife is increasingly popular with western cooks for a multitude of tasks including roast carving. Read more
KANETSUNE ELITE YANAGIBA
Deba – Traditionally used in Japan for filleting fish but equally suited to boning joints, parting out poultry or for use as a vegetable cleaver. Most Debas are single bevel like the Sashimi ideal for slicing softer, thinner products like fish.
Sujihiki – Used in long fluid strokes as you would use a western slicer creating a clean cut For more information visit www.chefslocker.co.uk