Japanese Knives: A Signature Blend of Precision and Aesthetics

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Every chef knows the importance of a high-quality set of knives. Even if you’re not a professional, you notice the difference between that one knife that can cut through everything and the rest of the knives in your drawer. However, there’s a special category of knives that stands out from the rest. Japanese knives are one of the most popular and most precise ones. They’re made of the finest steel, crafted with care and are very lightweight, the perfect combination to make you a master in the kitchen.

Nakiri Knife

nakiri knife
source: chefsarmoury.com

Nakiri is a Western-style Japanese knife. It’s a very popular choice among chefs and can vary in size, anywhere from 120-240mm. It’s also a favourite among home cooks and vegetarians. The blade is thin, broad and rectangular-shaped. The cutting edge is straight, and you can easily recognise it because of the flat and blunt tip. If you’re one of those households that loves veggies, a Nakiri knife is a must.
If you want an efficient and fast way to chop, mince, slice and dice your fruits and vegetables, you should buy an easy-to-hold and resilient Japanese knife set that includes a Nakiri knife. The ideal way to use it is up and down since this will give you precise cuts and even slices of all green vegetables. You’ll also get goof knuckle clearance and a knife that stays sharp for a long time. The blade won’t lose its length because of its shape.
One more unique feature of this knife is the double bevel. Because the blade is sharpened on both sides, all the cuts will be well-balanced. This type of double sharpness means that both left and right-handed people can use the Nakiri knife. You can choose between two styles, the wa-handle and the western-style handle. The traditional choice can have an octagonal, oval or D-shaped handle.
When it comes to materials, carbon steel and stainless steel are the best choices. If you don’t mind more upkeep because of possible corrosion and rust, carbon steel blades are quite durable. On the plus side, they’re easy to sharpen and will keep their sharpness for longer. On the other hand, stainless steel blades are harder to sharpen and can get dull quickly. However, they’re very durable, won’t chip easily and are more affordable.
Just like with many other things, the way you clean and maintain your knives will determine their longevity. The first thing to keep in mind is to use a whetstone when sharpening them. Always wash them by hand and pat them dry. This way you prevent rust and corrosion. Last but not least, invest as much as you can in your Nakiri knife because it’s something you’ll use a lot.

Santoku Knife

Do you know how the Santoku knife got its name? The word on itself means “three virtues”. It represents its three main usages, chopping, slicing and dicing. There are occasions when people confuse this knife with a chef’s knife, yet their designs and purposes are completely different. The Santoku knife is mainly used for creating garnishes. It cuts small, thin, almost leaf-like slices.
It requires time and a great deal of effort to learn how to use this knife properly. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll get neat and accurate cuts. Sharpening its blade at an acute angle will let it cut through food’s skin without putting too much strain on your fingers. This is an important thing to remember because it will make your kitchen life easier.
Doing the up-and-down motion will give you the best possible slices. Restrain yourself from moving it back and forth. Its ideal cutting angle is between 15-20 degrees. If you can find an even smaller one, it’ll be even better. The Santoku knife shouldn’t bend. So, look for one made of high-carbon steel or high-carbon stainless steel.
The Santoku blades are tall. This creates a great barrier between the slices of food. They’ll be thin, precise and won’t stick. Plus, it’s wide enough so you can use it to transfer the food from the chopping board to the pot or pan. Every Japanese knife set deserves to have a santoku knife because of its fineness and efficiency.

Usuba Knife

usuba knife
source: sharpedgeshop.com

Another blade that’s great for chopping vegetables is the Usuba knife. This Japanese knife is meant for beautiful, decorative chops, whereas the nakiri one was used for even vegetable slices. It’s very sharp and has a nice, thin edge. This will make cutting dense veggies much easier because they won’t crack with every chop.
The length of these blades ranges from 165 to 240mm. Don’t buy them without trying one. Make sure the length is suitable for your hand and movements. Its weight should also suit you. The thin, rectangular-shaped blade has a blunt tip, and the knuckle clearance is very good. The overall shape and length make the Usuba knife perfect for slicing big and long vegetables.
Unlike the nakiri knife which is double-bevelled, the Usuba knife is sharpened on one side only. This means that you can use it on one side only. The perfect cutting angle is between 10-15 degrees.  Include this knife in your Japanese cooking knife set if you want to improve your knife skills and take your cooking to the next level.

Gyuto Knife

We’ve all seen a classic, Western chef’s knife. The Gyuto knife is the Japanese version. It’s very versatile and can cut through a variety of things such as chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables and herbs. It’s good for tap-chopping and push-cutting because it has a flat heel. The pointy tip will give you precision and the belly will make the rocking movements smooth and steady.
This knife has a maximum length of 300mm. But 240mm is generally the ideal size for many chefs and home cooks. If you have limited workspace, you can go even smaller and get something around 210mm. This is also a double-bevelled knife with a very sharp edge.

Petty Knife

petty knife
source: eativitynews.com

This is a very versatile knife with a lot of purposes. It can dice, slice, peel, trim and mince all sorts of herbs, fruits, garnishes, proteins and vegetables. Its compact size (80-180mm) makes it very practical and lightweight. It will be the right choice if you have a smaller working station or smaller hands. You should use the double-bevelled edge to cut at a 10–15-degree angle and get the perfect, accurate cuts. Overall, an investment worth making.