How to choose a Japanese kitchen knife

How to choose a Japanese kitchen knife

Japanese kitchen knives are one of those handicrafts that stand out from their competitors. This thanks to its performance and durability, but also for their history. Like many other arts in Japan, that of knives was born in a revolutionary era around the 15th century, in the city of Sakai. Here a group of blacksmiths, who produce the famous Katana, started making knives for cutting tobacco, and finally decided to make kitchen knives. Today recognized throughout the world, Japanese artisanal knives are the most sought after.

On this subject, we come to explain to you what the different types of knives are and how to choose them according to the task at hand. At Joonetsu Knives you find everything you need.

The main characteristics of handmade Japanese kitchen knives

Japanese kitchen knives are tools with very specific characteristics. The first of these is the geometry of the blades, which are typically thin to allow for cleaner and more precise cutting with less effort. This particularity also allows the food that is cut to better keep its organoleptic characteristics, because a clean cut allows the cell membranes of the food to be preserved without tearing them.

An important difference is that of the steel used. Japanese steels are recognized for their very high carbon content, which gives us a sharper and longer blade. Another interesting point is the ease of sharpening them, with this charming hand sharpening technique that we love. For this we are always available if you need advice on the maintenance of your knives. At Joonetsu Knives we can take care of your blades or even better help you figure out how to do it yourself.

The different types of Japanese handmade knives and which to choose

While in Western culture we use different types of knives depending on the use we are about to give them, in Japanese culture the cork has been pushed a little further. For this they offer us a wider range of types of knives. We present it to you below:

Traditional Japanese knives

  • Deba: a traditional Japanese blade with a single bevel, used for cutting whole fish, this blade which is very thick is designed to be able to cut the edges without risking damaging the blade; the most common sizes are between 15 and 21cm.
  • Yanagiba: another traditional Japanese single-bevel blade, which always accompanies the Deba, as the Yanagiba is used for cutting raw proteins. Mainly for the preparation of sushi and sashimi, it is a blade that can reach 40cm in length.
  • Nakiri / Usuba: the Usuba is the third traditional Japanese blade that came to complete the set with the Deba and the Yanagiba. This unique bevel blade was designed and used for cutting vegetables, characterized by a very thin and straight blade. The nakiri has exactly the same use, but it has a double bevel so its use is ambidextrous; these are blades that come in sizes between 15 and 21cm.
  • Kiritsuke: a traditional Japanese blade, hybrid between the Usuba and the Yanagiba, it is a very versatile blade that lends itself to a wide number of uses. In Japanese culture this blade can be used only by chefs. It is found in the same sizes as a Gyuto.

Common Japanese knives

  • Bunka: the use is the same of a Santoku, therefore a multitasking blade of compact size; the difference is in the point, that of the santoku is rounded and that of the bevelled bunka. This makes it easier to perform tasks that require more precision.
  • Santoku: literally, the knife of the three virtues (san: three and toku: virtues). This refers to meat, vegetables and fish, because this blade with a size between 16 and 18cm offers us great ease in working with all types of food.
  • Gyuto: the Japanese equivalent of a chef’s knife, which makes this blade imprescindibile in every kitchen. Namely that when it was created the Gyuto was mainly used for cutting large pieces of meat, hence its name (gyu: cow and to: sword). It is generally found in a size of between 18 and 30cm.
  • Petty: this small blade is the equivalent of our paring knives. However, its longer and higher blade makes it more versatile than a western paring knife. Generally made with a size between 10 and 15cm.
  • Honesuki: a blade used to debone meat and poultry. Unlike the boners we are used to seeing, the Honesuki has a heel of about 4cm high which allows us to easily cut small bones or joints, this height is decreasing until reaching about 1cm at the tip which is bevelled, to allow us to easily detach tendons and cartilage.
  • Sujihiki: this blade is the equivalent of a filleting or slicing knife, mainly used for cutting cooked and raw meats and fish. Its size varies from 18 e 36cm.

Here are the main types of Japanese craft knives and their uses. At Joonetsu Knives you can find all these types of knives, treat yourself by immersing yourself in Japanese culture.

We hope to have clarified your ideas a little. Find in our online store a wide choice of Japanese artisanal knives, but also all the accessories necessary for their maintenance. Do not hesitate to contact us for any type of information.