There are many types of Japanese knives for different culinary purposes. From small Petty knives to long Sashimi knives. The proper use of the correct kitchen knife for the correct purpose is an integral part of Japanese food culture.
Non-Japanese knives have a V-type 'double-edged' structure with a symmetrical blade cross-section. Many Japanese knives are based on a single-edged structure. The back is a flat surface. Only the front side has an oblique grinding surface, and when looking at the cutting edge from the side, the section looks like "レ."
Compared to the Western double-edged version, single-edged knives make it easy to remove the blade when cutting food. This allows for a chef to quickly perform operations such as carving and stripping. The type of motion to use when cutting with a Japanese knife is generally a sliding motion, rather than pushing down. This helps to use the sharpness of the blade.
Low grade kitchen knives create rough surfaces on the items they cut, this is because it cuts the cells and it starts to oxidize quickly. Meanwhile, a sharp knife or handmade Japanese knives will not cut unnecessary cells and will improve the texture and taste. This allows the sliced food to last longer before going bad. Additionally, with the quality of the steel, the sharpness hardly falls even if you keep using it.
When it comes to cooking, having a reliable knife is essential for precision, ease, and safety. However, choosing the right one can be overwhelming with so many available brands and types, including handmade Japanese knives.
Here, we'll provide you with some tips on how to choose a high-quality Japanese knife that will elevate your cooking experience.
The blade material is a critical consideration when choosing a Japanese knife. The most common types of materials are stainless steel and carbon steel. Stainless steel blades are easier to maintain and resist rust, while carbon steel blades are harder and will hold a sharper edge for longer.
The handle of your knife should be comfortable and ergonomic, providing a good grip and balance. Choose a handle that feels comfortable in your hand and complements the blade's weight and size. Handles can be made from various materials, such as wood, plastic, or composite materials.
Different types of Japanese knives are designed for specific purposes, and choosing the right one can make a significant difference to your cooking experience. For example, if you often prepare from whole fish or meat, a Deba knife may be a good choice, as its thick, heavy blade is ideal for fileting fish and preparing meat. On the other hand, if you frequently chop vegetables, a Gyuto or Santoku may be a better type of Japanese knife. Generally, they are all versatile all-purpose knives that can be used for slicing, dicing, and chopping in addition to working with fish or meat.
Consider your cutting technique as well. Some chefs prefer a rocking motion when chopping, while others use a more traditional pull slicing technique. Japanese knives are designed with different blade shapes to accommodate various cutting techniques. For example, a Gyuto knife has a slightly curved edge ideal for rocking back and forth, while a Yanagiba knife has a straight blade, perfect for slicing with a pulling motion.
Take the time to research and choose the type of Japanese cooking knife that suits your cooking style, needs, and preferences. Doing this will deliver an enhanced cooking experience for years to come.