Japanese chef Knife

10 Key Points, Choosing a Japanese Chef Knife

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The first priority for a cook in a kitchen is a good set of a knife. Because to cook anything in a kitchen, it starts under the sharp edge of a knife. So, you must care about selecting or choosing a kitchen knife. Therefore, we prefer you to choose the Japanese Chef Knife, as they are the best of the kitchen knives. The Japanese blacksmiths have a tradition of making knives for over centuries. They try to retain their ancestor’s acquired fame by making quality and aesthetic knives.

Sometimes, You may have to cook a lot of fish and seafood or a lot of poultry and red meat or some vegetables. In that case, you have to choose different knives for your different needs. You must also consider how comfortable you are when using those knives. But, Your requirement for comfort may vary in slicing, dicing, and chopping or prices or durability or sharpness of them. In below, we will discuss all the things before choosing a best Japanese knife. In particular, we will focus on 10 things that must be considered.

What are the 10 considerable things to choose Japanese Chef Knife?

  1. Type of knife

    Japanese Chef Knife

  2. size
  3. Steel
  4. Edge
  5. Handle
  6. Design
  7. Construction
  8. Production
  9. Price
  10. Maintenance

1. Type of knife

Japanese knives are available in different types. Each of the types is used for different purposes. In a kitchen, different cooking materials are found. You can neither cut or slice red meat or fish using a bread knife with comfort nor use a vegetable knife. So, here are the types of Japanese Chef Knife you need to consider.

  • Santoku / multi-purpose it means ‘three virtues’ in Japanese. It can cut fish, meat, and Japanese chef knife
  • vegetables.
  • Gyutou / Chef’s knife is an all-purpose kitchen knife. It is also called a beef knife.
  • Deba / butchery knife has a lot of weight. Thus, it can be used for cutting poultry or fish.
  • Kiritsuke / Slicer knife can be used either for slicing or as an all-purpose knife.
  • Usuba / Vegetable knife is used for cutting hard vegetables like carrots.
  • Hankotsu / Boning knife is suitable to debone hanging meats.
  • Petty / Paring knife is for handling herbs, small fruits and vegetables.
  • Sujuhiki / Slicer knife allows you to get more precise cut.
  • Pankiri / Bread knife is used for slicing bread or baked goods.   

See also World Best Japanese Chef knife

2. Size

Various lengths of knives are available. But, The most typical and preferable size of the Japanese kitchen knives is an 8.5 inches knife. You may consider smaller blades for your smaller hands or can choose by trying various sizes. Besides, there are considerable sizes for different purposes. For example, for slicing purpose you may feel comfort in using a knife between 8-12 inches of size.

Considerable sizes for different purposes  

Japanese chef knife

  • For cutting the soft flesh of fish and fish bones, you may consider 6.5 to 8 inches length of the blade. There is a smaller size also of 4 inches.
  • For regular cutting purposes, a knife measuring 6.5-9.5 is used.
  • For chopping and scooping, a knife measuring between 5 and 7 inches is considered.
  • A 3.5 inches knife is used for peeling fruits and veggies.

Moreover, you can choose a Japanese Chef Knife based on how comfortable you are while using various sizes to select from.

3. Steel

In a Japanese Chef Knife’s, blade part is crucial. All the cutting that you are going to do starts with the blade. So, it’s important to make an informative decision before choosing a blade. We have to consider the types of steels with which they are made of. Thus, following things must be checked before choosing a steel.

Japanese chef knife

  • Resistance to breaking or toughness.
  • Ease of cutting things or sharpness.
  • Ease of sharpening a dull edge.
  • Rust resistance ability of the steel
  • A virtue of retaining the sharp edge.

Here, we can distinguish the steel in two forms. One is stainless steel and the other is carbon steel.

  • Stainless steel is generally tougher and less sharp than carbon steel. Blades from this steel retain the edge for the longer period. Powdered, semi-stainless, tool steel is the types of stainless steel.
  • Carbon steel is sharper than stainless steel and easier to sharpen. But, they are more brittle and more able to rust. White, Blue, and Super blue steel are the types of it.

4. Edge

Knives can be split into two parts. One is a single-edged knife and another is the double-edged knife. Single bevel knives are made by the Japanese tradition and double-edged knives are made by the western tradition. A double-edged blade has both the sides sharpened to the same degree. Whereas, a single-edged blade has just one sharpened side.Japanese Chef Knife These single-edged Japanese style kitchen knives are made from harder steel and hold its sharpness longer than that of the western style knife. You must think about some facts before choosing a knife.  

  • Double bevel knives are generally thinner than single bevel knives.
  • Single bevel knives may drive right or left while cutting something because of their one-sided sharpened side.
  • Because of the harder steel single bevel knife can be brittle. Thus, you should choose the proper types of knives for specific cutting works.

5. Handle

In general, there are two types of handles. One is Japanese style or “WA” handle and the other is the western style. Japanese handles are made of woods which are glued on the part of a tang of the knives. Whereas, a western style knife handle is riveted on a full tang. Tang of a western style knife is often visible. The most amazing aspect of the handle is, it will feel comfortable to you and gives you a good sense of control over the blade. Now, let’s see the pros and cons of these two types of knives

  • A “Wa” or Japanese style knife is lighter and greater in volume than the western style knives.
  • Western style knives handles are heavier because of the full tang feature. This so uncomfortable when the knife pushes backward to the weighted handle.
  • A broken Japanese style handle is easier to replace. It doesn’t so much of effort. But, a western style handle needs more effort to replace when damaged.

6. Design

Japanese Chef Knife is often single side sharpened. In general, a single bevel knife is sharper than the double bevel knife. A Single grounded knife cuts with perfection. Although, since the end of the second world war the double bevel knife has been so popular. Usually, the right-hand side of a single bevel blade is sharpened. In that case, if you are a left-hander, then you should buy the left-hand side knife. The facts you should consider the designs are:Japanese chef knife

  • While selecting a single bevel knife, if you are left-handed, then you must have to buy a left-handed users blade.
  • Single bevel knives are for skilled people. An inefficient user can do harm to himself because this knife can drive left or wrong when using.  
  • With keeping in mind The working purposes, you can select a design from the various types of knives.  
  • The design of the handle of a knife is also important. Comfortness in handling gives a better cut for a user.
  • “Wa” knife is generally rare for the left-handers and is uncomfortable too. So, we prefer the western style knives for the left-handers.

7. Construction

The one of the most important thing in a Japanese Chef Knife is steel. Your comforts in using knife differ when the steel is used for cutting purposes. There are two classes of traditional structured Japanese knives. Honyaki (carbon Mono-steel) and Laminated knife. Hardness, sharpness, rust resistance and edge retention differ in this two types of knives because of distinguished steels. Carbon Mono steel generally for the experienced chefs. And the laminated steel is more used for regular purposes. It is convenient if you want to use it for everyday use. Now, let’s find the differences between these two different structured blades.

  • Carbon mono steel is harder than the laminated steel. Thus, it is hard to sharpen when dull.
  • Honyaki’s edge durability is better than the laminated steel.
  • Though most chefs have laminated kitchen knives, if you are a chef you will want to hold a Honyaki in your lifetime.

In these two structural knives, two different materials of steel are used. Carbon steel and stainless steel. In above, we have discussed these two types of steel. Just take a look again!

8. Production

High-quality cutlery originates from Sakai, in Osaka, Japan since the 14th century. But, the production of steel knives started in the 16th century. The Japanese have increased their reputation when they started making knives with the combination of modern machinery and their traditional methods. About 90% of the Japanese chefs use professional chef knives from Osaka. But, Nowadays Seki, Gifu is considered to be the home of Japanese Chef Knife. Seki and Osaka produce the quality Japanese Chef Knife which is sharper than the western style knives.

The production centers now present in Japan are :

  • Sakai, Osaka
  • Seki, Gifu
  • Miki, Banshu, Hyogo
  • Tosa, Kochi
  • Sabae & Takefu, (Echizen, Fukui)
  • Tsubame/Sanjyo, Niigata.
  • Tokyo
  • Tanegashima
  • Toyama.

9. Price

After all, we think you already have figured out which knife is the best. It is obvious that you want to buy the best of the knives. But what about the cost. You may find that the price of the best knives is higher. Definitely, you will want the best combination of quality and reasonable price. But, before choosing a reasonable price you must have to review the knives quality. In general terms, the price of Japanese Chef Knife is determined by these:

  • Quality of steel and alternative material used in making the blade.
  • Quality of handle and balance of the knife.
  • A method used to make the blade.
  • Sharpness and Longevity of sharpness of the blade.
  • Quality of manufacturing.

So, if you want all the quality mentioned above that the best knife must have you may have to spend some extra. Or, you can choose an average quality for an average price of Japanese Chef Knife.

10. Maintenance

You have bought a knife by spending dollars. Then, now you have to think about the maintenance of your knives. Your blade will get rusty and dull if you don’t care about it and therefore all the investments will be wasted. A rusty and dull blade won’t do the optimal performance of which you have expected. So, how to maintain your knives performance –

  • Make some more investment in sharpening stones. Like a sharpening stone maintains your knives sharpness.
  • Use a quality cutting board in favor of your knives edge.
  • Make sure your knives safety when not in use by storing knives in a knife block.
  • During ‘on the go’ state you can use different knife pouches or sheaths.
  • Camellia or Tsubaki oil on carbon steel is a traditional method to maintain your knives longevity.
  • you have to clean it, dry it with dry towel and oil it immediately after use to prevent your precious knife from being rusty.

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