In the ancient Japanese culture, cooking plays an important role. Japanese knives require extensive knowledge and experience for their mastery. Each Japanese knife has a very specific use and purpose.
Difference between Eastern and Western knives
In the West, the cutting technique is based on swinging the Chef’s knife. On the contrary, in Japan, mastery of cutting is based on rapid movements. The blade is lifted and dropped, not swinged along the edge.
In the East, food is processed – usually – in smaller pieces and the presentation of the dish is as fundamental as its flavor and taste. In the West, meanwhile, we serve food in larger pieces and the presentation is not so important.
Most Japanese knives are sharpened only in a single side of the blade. Due to this feature, those Japanese knives are differentiated between right-handed and left-handed: depending on the direction (defined by the skilled hand of the chef), the cutting edge will appear on one face or another of the blade.
Western knives have a sharp edge on both sides, that is, they have a V-shaped blade. This makes them more versatile to perform different cuts, while Japanese knives have a much more specific use.
Japanese knife types
It is the “jack of all trades” of the Japanese cuisine. Its name means ‘three virtues’ referring to its versatility. This multifunctional knife resembles the western Chef’s knife, but with a straight edge instead of the curved edge of the Chef’s knife. It is ideal for meat, fish or vegetables and is good for slicing, dicing and mincing.
Also known as Yanagiba knife or Shobu-Bocho (sashimi knife), is a specific tool for sashimi preparation: it is ideal for filleting fish or meat. It has a thin blade in the form of a katana, which provides a high precision cut.
The Deba knife is prepared for cutting, boning and filleting fish. It is heavier to the Nakiri knife and with a thicker blade. It has one side edge only.
The Usuba knife is used for cutting vegetables. It completes the great triad of Japanese knives. The wide blade with a straight edge separates each cut from the rest.
The Nakiri knife also specializes in cutting vegetables. It is light and shaped like a machete. It is sharpened on both sides.
The Gyutoh is a versatile knife, to slice and for the preparation of meat and fish. Its name means ‘sword for meat’. It is the counterpart of the werstern Chef’s knife.
Small paring knife, ideal for peeling and carving vegetables.
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