Japanese Knives - What Makes this Kitchen Cutlery so Unique?
Probably the most appealing characteristic of a Japanese kitchen knife
is the Ultra Sharp Blade. These knives are wonderful for cutting, especially
when accuracy and precision cuts are necessary.
Also, Japanese knives tend to be lightweight, especially compared
to Western knives; and while the light feel is comfortable for people
with small hands or those seeking ergonomic kitchen tools, many home and
professional chefs find that they need time to get used to the distinct
feel a Japanese kitchen knife offers.
My new favorite knife set is the Ginsu
Chikara Series 07112 12 Piece Cutlery Set Forged Stainless Steel Knife
Set with Bamboo Block. The 12 piece is $83 and there is a 8
piece for $68. My friends are so sick of hearing me rave about the
knives - but I can't help it. They have stayed amazingly sharp (I have
the scars to prove it). The promised review
Japanese Style Knife Compared to European Cutlery:
Japanese knife making dates back to the Samurai period with sword making.
The well known town of Seki is still famous for making blades.
Popular cutlery makers like Kershaw known for the world famous Shun Collection,
use sharp blades from master blade-makers, Kai.
Brands like Joyce Chen, offer consumers a nice line of Asian knives at
excellent price points, and these include favorites like sushi knives
and unlimited scissors.
What makes Japanese knives sharper, more flexible, and lighter to handle
than their Western counterpart? (It's the hard steel and thinness of the
blade). A Japanese Santoku, Chef's, Sashimi,
or Deba Knife has an acute bevel angle for sharpness. The cutlery is characteristically
lighter than a Western knife like: Wusthof, Messemeister, or Henckles
because the blades are so much thinner.
- Blade angle for an Asian kitchen knife - 15 degrees
- Blade angle for a European knife - 20 degrees
About Japanese Chef Knives:
Interestingly, with all of the news coverage and press, Asian knives
are becoming popular in the kitchen. People tend to know brands such as
and Kyocera (ceramic
knives). They may be less familiar with Japanese manufacturers: Chroma,
Kasumi, Bunmei, Suisin and Misono
(the UX10 knife line, with Swedish stainless steel, placed #1 in Food
and Wine Magazine, July 2005 poll).
Difference: Traditional Japanese and Western Style Japanese Knives:
In case you're not aware, two different types of Japanese cutlery exists:
traditional and western. What's the difference? Japanese traditional knives
are designed specifically for Japanese cooking. The blades are constructed
differently than the western style Japanese kitchen knives mentioned above.
Blades sport an edge on one side. This requires different sharpening techniques
than what many American and European cooks are accustomed to.
Another difference is that a traditional Japanese knife has a carbon
steel blade that is not stain or rust resistance. These knives are great
for the professional chef who desires the benefits of this specific cutlery,
not so though for the general home cook who prefers a no stain steel.
Stick with Western Style Japanese Knives - Global, Mac, Shun:
If you are looking to buy a Japanese stye knife, go with brands like
Global, Mac, Shun and Choma. These knive are made in sort of a hybrid
fashion and are a nice cross between traditional Japanese knives and western
Questions About Asian Knife Sharpening?
How to sharpen?
1. Electric sharpeners offer a convenient choice, and there ARE Asian
Style knife sharpeners that have recently become available.
Chef's Choice Asian Electric Sharpener makes a "Recommended"
choice from Cook's Illustrated reviews. This sharpener is designed
for Japanese and Asian knives which have a 15 degree blade angle. (Note:
Some Asian knives are single beveled, others are double beveled, either
way, this sharpener does the job).
2. If you prefer a manual sharpener, "Highly Recommended"
status was given to Chef's Choice
Diamond Hone Asian Knife Sharpener.
Bamboo cutting board