Japanese Chef Knives : What are they and why do I need one?
What is a Japanese Chef Knife?
It's a type of knife used to prepare food. Japanese chef knives come in various design types and sizes but are usually crafted using traditional blacksmithing techniques of the Japanese. Japanese chef knives are versatile, durable, stylish, and offer a high level of precision. You should get at least one type of this knife to add versatility and efficiency to your kitchen.
Japanese Chef's Knife VS Ordinary Chef's Knife
A Japanese chef's knife is different from an ordinary chef's knife in three ways – the type of steel, handle, and sharpening angle. Japanese knives are made with harder types of steel with an HRC hardness that usually starts from 56. On the other hand, ordinary chef's knives have HRC hardness that starts from 54.
Most Japanese knives are made with wooden handles, especially pakkawood. The treated wood is usually durable, cool to touch, and easy to maintain. Ordinary chef knives are made with various handle materials, including plastic. Lastly, the sharpening angle of a Japanese knife is usually around 30 degrees with an approximately 15 degrees cutting angle. An ordinary chef knife has a sharpening angle of about 40 degrees with a cutting angle of approximately 20 degrees.
What To Consider Before Buying A Japanese Chef Knife
Japanese chef knives are investments that last for years. They are not only beautiful and feel luxurious but are of high quality. So, what are the factors to consider before buying the best Japanese chef knife?
There are different types of Japanese knives, including Deba, Santoku, and Nakiri, etc. If you are looking for an all-rounder, you should start with Santoku or Gyuto. They are great multipurpose cutters that are ideal for enhancing your kitchen collection.
Handles and Grip
If you intend to buy a Japanese knife, it should have a Japanese "wa-style" handle. It's usually lightweight and feels comfortable. It's a century-old design that usually feels extremely lighter if combined with a half-tang.
What are you going to use the knife for? This is another feature to consider since different Japanese knives have various features for specific purposes. If you want a versatile knife, you should consider a multipurpose knife. If you want to prepare fish or carry out filleting, then a deba or sashimi knife would be ideal.
Ease of Care
Of course, looks are important when choosing a knife, but this should be the last thing to consider. Storing and caring for your knife should be easier. A simple wipe should do the job since you shouldn't put any kitchen knife in a dishwasher. Pick a knife that can easily be stored in a drawer or a wooden magnetic knife rack.
Different types of Japanese Knives
There are different types of Japanese knives designed for specific uses, including:
Santoku: it's one of the most popular Japanese knives ideals for multipurpose use. Santoku is known as the "knife of 3 virtues," and its normally used to prepare fish, meat, and vegetables.
Gyutou: it's considered the Japanese equivalent of the standard European chef's knife, but it has a distinct thinner blade. It's a multipurpose knife that can handle many kitchen tasks.
Kiritsuke: it's a slicer with an angled tip. Kiritsuke is an all-purpose knife used to slice fruits, vegetables, and fish thinly.
Usuba: it's a vegetable knife with a single edge. Usuba is incredibly sharp with a curved tip that offers a high level of precision.
Deba: a single-bevel butchery knife that's heavy with a thick spine. Deba is mostly used for filleting, fish butchery, and poultry.
Nakiri: it's another vegetable with a double-edged design. Its high precision delivers premium vegetable cuts and can cut hard-skinned produce such as squash and pumpkin.
Top 5 high-quality Japanese knives
This is a professional knife made with top-rated and durable German HC stainless steel. As a result, the 7" santoku knife series is resistant to rust, discoloration, and corrosion. It's one of the most sought-after Japanese chef knives with a versatile profile. It's ideal for dicing, slicing, mincing, and chopping edibles, including fruits, veggies, meat, and bread. This knife's design features include:
Ergonomic handle: its ergonomically designed Pakkawood handle provides ease of use and enhances comfort. It reduces overall grip pressure, making it ideal for lasting use.
Ultra-sharp edge: this knife has undergone several professional tests to ensure that it gets the job done perfectly. The hand-polished edge with 2.5 mm thickness is 15-18 degrees on either side.
Oval-edge blade: to get the job done and offer users a premium experience, this chef's knife has a hollow oval edge design on both sides of the blade. Note that there is a full reinforcement between the handle and blade to protect your fingers and offer additional weight support for ultimate balancing.
Nakiri 7" chef's knife stands out due to its ergonomic design. The hand-forged cutter is made with an ergonomic handle and Germain stainless steel material. Even though its affordable and beginner-friendly knife gets the job done, its feel and efficiency lie in its durability, sharpness, and balance.
Its blade is embossed on the Asian Usuba Knife, and this helps it create small air pockets that reduce friction or resistance generated when handling food. Besides that, it ensures that no food sticks on the blade, making the cleaning up process easier. Imarku's 7" Nakiri knife features include:
Multi-functional design: this is the ultimate chef's knife that can get any job done in your kitchen. It can handle every day and complex kitchen tasks such as dicing, slicing, mincing, and cutting.
Ergonomic handle: Nakiri's handle is made with wooden Pakkawood that helps to promote comfort, ease of movement, and ultimate balance. It's suitable for long-lasting use since its stable structure helps to eliminate muscle fatigue and wrist pain.
Ultra-sharp edge: its premium performance is enhanced by the German stainless steel's resistance to stain, rust, discoloration, and corrosion. This knife has been crafted by skilled professionals and is effective in mirrors and hand-polished for outstanding blade sharpness.
It's one of the top-rated Japanese Chefs knives with a high-end design. Kiritsuke 7.5" feels luxurious, but most importantly, it effectively gets the job done. Its versatile profile makes it a must-have in most kitchens, including restaurants.
It's craftsmanship is unique, and this ensures that it doesn't chip or dull regardless of the complexity of the task or duration of use. The knife's blade is made with oxidation blackening and the hammering process that creates an effective anti-stick. Technically, this chef knife reflects this brand's expertise over the years. Its design features include:
Multipurpose use: the functionality of this kiritsuke knife is diverse. It has been professionally made to withstand a wide range of conditions, especially friction, corrosion, rust, and discoloration. It's suitable for everyday kitchen activities such as dicing, slicing, chopping, and mincing, among others.
Ultra-sharp blade: the steel blade has been refined and comes with a high level of sharpness, making it ideal for cutting simply vegetable stems to hard bones.
Angular design: its unique geometric design makes the knife unique and efficient in cutting through edibles. Note that this cutter comes with a long-curved handle that adapts to the shape of your fingers, easing pressure and making your kitchen operations feel more natural.
A wholesome 10" knife gets the job done in the kitchen. This is a great chef knife ideal for handling sushi and sashimi. Its well-crafted blade length makes it possible for you to easily slice through your food product with minimal pressure and just one pass.
While there are many features that make the Imarku 10" sushi knife a game-changer, it's easy to manage and clean. It also makes a high-quality gift for birthdays, weddings, and other events such as housewarming. Its design includes:
Durable stainless-steel blade made with high-carbon stainless steel, this is a sharp knife with HRC level 56-58 hardness and 80-100 sharpness. Besides that, it has outstanding edge retention.
Ergonomic handle: the ergonomic and hygienic pakkawood handle, in addition to the single-edged design, makes the knife ideal for offering the ultimate balance and perfect grip when slicing through sushi or sashimi. Its performance is enhanced by 12-15 degrees on either side with a sharp blade that easily tears and crushes through the structure of your ingredients.
Unlike the other Imarku Japanese chef knives, Deba has a unique design. It's made traditionally, featuring well-folded steel that makes the knife incredibly hard to bend under pressure. Besides that, its single bevel edge is one of the sharpest.
The professional Deba knife is ideal for handling different types of ingredients. However, it's ideal for fish cutting, especially in the rough processing of different parts of whole fish, including breaking bones, filleting, gutting, and cutting fish heads. Imarku 7" Deba Knife design features:
Durable steel material: the 7-inch knife is premium high-end steel with 56-58 HRC hardness and 80-100 sharpness. The high-carbon stainless steel offers an incredible level of hardness, corrosion resistance, and flexibility.
Comfortable pakkawood handle: this knife's blade is made with a soft and firm pakkawood that offers an incredible level of grip.
Sharp blade: 7" Deba knife is made with a single bevel design and 12-15 degrees. This provides a sharp and smooth finish ideal for cutting both bones and meat. Besides that, it comes with an anti-stick design that minimizes damage.