kitchen knives

Complete Guide to Acquiring a Japanese Knife in 2023

handmade kitchen knives

This information is meant to assist you in choosing the best Japanese knife for your requirements. Japanese knives are renowned for their exquisite and intricate design, history, and the cuts they deliver. Since the majority of them are handmade, they are frequently regarded as separate forms of art. Japanese knives are frequently preferred by the top chefs in the world and for good reason. Not the best for the clumsy chef, their blades are frequently thin and delicate and prone to shattering if you don’t take adequate care of them. However, if you take a little more care with your knives, the joy and satisfaction you get from making your cuisine will be magnified. They enable the kind of delicate, accurate cuts and stunning presentation you’d see in a top-notch sushi restaurant.

What Japanese knife would be ideal for me?

The adage that the best Japanese knife is the one that serves you best is untrue. Before making a purchase, think about how the knives will be used. Professional chefs and home cooks may have different needs. While amateur cooks normally use their knives for approximately 20 minutes a day to prepare supper, professional chefs typically use them for up to 40 to 50 hours per week.

Since experienced cooks utilize heavy-duty blades with improved edge retention, you don’t need to buy them. They are classic Japanese slicers with solitary bevel blades. Single bevel knives can attain an extremely sharp cutting edge, suitable for the cleanest cuts like filleting fish for flawless sushi sashimi, in contrast to Japanese knives made in the Western style, which have a double edge.

Only you can decide which knife is the best, most practical, and most comfortable for you. Once you’ve made that decision, you may begin to assemble your own set, if necessary over time rather than all at once.

How Japanese and Western kitchen knives differ from each other

Compared to Western knives, Japanese kitchen knives are often manufactured from steel which is tougher. As a result, the edges can maintain their sharpness for longer. Compared to Western knives, the blade can tolerate more wear and tear, although the tougher steel can be brittle. You must be sure to use the appropriate Japanese knife for each operation. A Japanese chef’s knife’s edge may be damaged if you attempt to cut through a chicken bone with one, as opposed to a Western chef’s knife. The blade shape of Japanese Chef knives is also distinct in that it is hardly ever curved. Due to their length and straightness, long and straight-edged knives should only be sharpened with special care. 

Do you prefer high-carbon steel or stainless steel?

Because stainless steel is frequently a softer type of steel than carbon steel, it frequently won’t maintain an edge as well. Stainless steel loses its edge faster than carbon steel. Despite being harder than stainless steel, carbon steel is much simpler to sharpen. In order to somewhat complicate matters further, high-carbon stainless steel is also available.

Iron, 10–15% chromium, nickel, and maybe molybdenum are the main components of stainless steel, which also contain a negligible amount of carbon. Kitchen knives with good stainless steel blades are rust resistant, simple to maintain, sharp, retain their edges, and simple to resharpen. As a result, they are becoming well-liked by both novice and intermediate users.

To combine the greatest qualities of carbon steel and regular stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel often refers to higher-grade stainless steel alloys with a specific amount of carbon. The high carbon stainless steel blades keep their edge for a respectable amount of time without fading or staining.

In comparison to less expensive stainless knives, most “high-carbon” stainless blades, like those made of VG10 steel, are constructed of higher-quality alloys, frequently containing amounts of molybdenum, vanadium, cobalt, and other elements designed to improve strength, edge-holding, and cutting ability.

Start with just one knife.

The majority of work you perform in the kitchen is done with one or two knives, usually the versatile chef’s knife (the Japanese counterpart is called The Gyuto) and a tiny utility knife, even though we all prefer to have options (Japanese name: Petty).

Understanding that will help you concentrate on choosing and using your must-haves. The next time you’re in the kitchen, pay attention to how, whenever you need to use a knife, you almost certainly have one or two of your favorites on hand.

It is not a good idea to choose a set of knives when purchasing a new knife because of their aesthetic worth. Quality always prevails over quantity, too. It is advisable to purchase a few truly fine knives that you enjoy using all the time rather than a set of knives, some of which are either used very infrequently or never at all.

When you run out, you might want to try out some other knives for that particular task. When buying Japanese knives, the same principle applies.

We always encourage our clients to choose the knives that meet their needs and give them confidence. While the majority of people prefer a guy to (chef’s) knives that measure 210mm, you may prefer a knife that is longer, shorter, or somewhat narrower than the model identified as the “bestseller.” Alternatively, you might find a slightly different utility (petty) or paring blade more comfortable.

Basic guidelines for selecting a knife shape

  • A knife made for cutting fresh fish has a very narrow blade, whereas a knife made for cutting vegetables and fruits has a considerably wider blade.
  • The more curved the edge, the better suited it is for chopping, rolling slicing, and cutting (as you would see some pros do) (with the tip on the board). The easier it is to slice (with a lateral motion, as you would with smoked salmon), dice (as you would with potatoes or hard vegetables), and chop (with a straight vertical cut), the straighter the edge.
  • For cutting quickly or with a conventional rolling action, narrow blades are not appropriate. Furthermore, they cannot be chopped with them.
  • Since wide blades are typically longer than their narrower siblings, paring, peeling, and general cutting with them in the hands is challenging.

Chef’s Knife – The Guyto

These are typically wide at the handle end and range in length from 165 to 240mm. A chef’s knife can be used for rolling cutting and chopping in a comfortable and secure manner. To make rolling the blade simpler, the edge is slightly curved with a straight section at the handle end. With this knife, cutting straight through the wound is also really simple. This kind of edge profile also makes it easier to chop cleanly with the knife’s back end while keeping the tip on the work area.

A blade with a thinner tip end, such as a Guyton, is a suitable option if you plan to prepare more raw meat and fish than fruit and vegetables. Additionally, Guyot produces a superb carving knife that also functions well as a general-purpose knife.

The Santoku knife or Funafuti, is the finest option if you’re cooking more veggies than raw fish and meat. Santoku knives are a superb tool for slicing tiny greens and herbs.

Pairing, utility knife – The Petty

In the majority of residential kitchens, these knives are the most often used. The blade can be used for peeling, paring, and slicing. Its typical length is between 100mm and 150mm. In Japan, this blade style is referred to as Petty.

You can cut food into larger pieces the longer the length. Additionally, a longer blade is simpler to use for slicing. Because the hand knuckle that is gripping the knife will halt the back end of the edge, you shouldn’t use this type of knife to chop because you won’t be able to get absolutely clean cuts. If you attempt to use a traditional rolling cut operation, the same thing will occur. As the knife must be guided and controlled by the hand knuckle holding the food in a claw with the fingertips—far from the knife edge—there is a risk of slashing your knuckle. Pick a knife with a very thin edge if you want something razor-sharp. It’s crucial that you never cut frozen food or bone with such a knife or with force or a hard impact. The knife’s edge could chip if you do this, and you could injure yourself.

Disparities between the steel in general (for the nerds)

Unless they have been heating treated or hardened using another way to provide the steel a Rockwell grade of at least 56:58, most stainless steel knives do not keep their edge properly. Anything less than this will cause the knife’s edge to soon lose sharpness. Furthermore, stainless steel is more difficult to resharpen than high carbon steel (both stainless and staining).

Recommendation:

If this is your first experience using Japanese blades, don’t worry. You can get a knife from our online store ICKnives to try, and with our 45-day money-back guarantee there are no questions asked. Simply return it if you don’t like it, and we’ll refund your money. You may easily locate the ideal kitchen equipment if you follow our advice for choosing knives: put function and price first, then looks.

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