Kitchen knives (III): Japanese knives
In recent years we have seen how Japanese kitchen knives have become very popular in Spain and Europe in general. Although I am not a big fan of Japanese knives, I understand the interest they have aroused, since they bring different characteristics to European knives and some models are really interesting.
After the entries I made about types of kitchen knives and stainless steel knives , I would like to talk to you today about the main differential points of Japanese knives compared to European ones, and the different types of knives that we can find. What do they give us and what knife to buy based on the needs we have.
The quality of Japanese knives is marked by Japan's relationship with steel and its obsession with constant improvement. For centuries, Japan has handcrafted swords (katanas), saws, knives, and all kinds of cutting utensils with exceptional strength and sharpness. All the tradition and knowledge about cutting utensils, together with the innovation and technology that the Japanese apply to their production processes, make Japanese kitchen knives the best in the world for many.
The most important differential characteristics of Japanese knives are given by the manufacturing process and the design of the knife itself. Japanese knives are made of a high-quality steel alloy, so they have a higher degree of hardness than European ones and keep their edge longer. They are usually lighter than European knives and have a thinner blade and an extremely sharp edge, designed to cut food while maintaining all of its properties.
At Claudia&Julia we have chosen to offer KAI kitchen knives , as we believe that it is one of the manufacturers that best represents the tradition of Japanese knives today. KAI was born in 1908 in Seki, a city famous worldwide for the production of high-quality knives for more than 800 years. KAI manufactures knives maintaining the artisan spirit of traditional blacksmiths but with an innovative spirit and the most advanced manufacturing technology.
Kai presents different series or models of knives, but we want to highlight two of them: one is the Wasabi Black series, Kai's series of knives that, with all the characteristics of Japanese knives, can be obtained at a very good price. The other series is the Kai Shun Damascus , the highest range, with a precious line, Damascus steel and an exceptional cut.
There are many types of Japanese kitchen knives, but some in our opinion are almost essential. As versatile knives, we can find chef's knives like the ones we normally use in Europe. In the store we have everything from 8.5cm vegetable peeling nails to 10, 15 and 20cm chef knives. These knives are ideal as multi-purpose knives, the popular onion knives that we normally use at home.
We also have the popular Santoku knife , both regular and hollow. The Santoku knife owes its name to the three tasks it performs in Japanese cooking: cutting, mincing, and slicing. It is the equivalent of the European chef's knife, as it can be used for almost any cut, including shredding or carving.
Other knives more specific to Japanese cuisine are the Deba , the Yanagiba and the Nakiri . The Deba is a short, strong knife used by professionals to clean and prepare fish. The Yanagiba is a knife for sashimi and sushi, with a longer and thinner blade that allows us an excellent cut. The Yanagiba is a Kataba knife, it is only sharp on the right side of the blade unlike Ryoba knives which are sharp on both sides of the blade. The Nakiri is a traditional double-edged Ryoba knife used to cut and chop vegetables.
If you want to buy a Japanese knife, for your own use or as a gift, my recommendation is to buy a Santoku or a Yanagiba . A Santoku is a versatile knife that you can use for almost everything, ideal for a normal kitchen. If you usually prepare Japanese cuisine at home, then a Yanagiba will allow you the perfect cut that sushi, sashimi or maki requires.