The 5 Best Japanese Knives To Add To Your Arsenal
Any experienced chef understands the importance of a good kitchen knife. They’ll have their favorite knife – their bread and butter that they automatically reach for.
Experimentation, however, is useful beyond just improving your favorite dish. And in recent years, more and more chefs have begun to experiment with different Japanese knife types. Unlike their Western cousins, Japanese knives are a lot more specialized. From the rectangular Usuba or the triangular Honesuki, these Eastern knives have a lot of variety to them.
The 5 following Japanese knife types, however, are ones that every chef should consider adding to their arsenal.
The 5 Best Japanese Knives To Add To Your Arsenal
The Gyutou is very similar in appearance to your typical Western chef knife. It’s even capable of performing many of the same tasks that its Western counterpart can perform, including cutting meat, fish and vegetables. The Gyutou, however, is much better at rocking motions. This also means that the Gyutou is a very versatile knife.
Unlike most other traditional Japanese knives, the Gyutou can easily substitute for a Chef’s Knife. Material-wise, the Gyutou is usually very similar to the knives we are familiar with. You can expect steel that is extremely tough with a hint of softness. Due to these similarities, the Gyutou is commonly referred to as a Japanese Chef’s Knife.
Like the Gyutou, the Santoku is also a very versatile knife. It combines many of the aspects of knives from both the West and the East. As a hybrid knife, this means the Santoku is also a great choice as a general all-purpose knife. However, a Santoku knife has a block-like tip similar to a Nakiri and a thinner profile with a curved cutting edge. The result? A knife that excels at slicing, chopping, and mincing.
Thanks to the shape, the Santoku also ends up being much more precise than the Gyutou. Unlike Western knives, however, the Santoku is ground at a shallower angle creating a knife with a delicate edge that is harder to sharpen.
Like the Chef’s Knife, the paring knife also has its Japanese equivalent. In this case, that would be the Petty knife. Named after the French word “petite”, the Petty knife is as small as you would expect. These knives also come in different sizes so you have a fair share of options no matter your hand size.
As you would expect from a paring knife, the Petty is perfect when it comes to peeling fruit or vegetables. Likewise when it comes to intricate work on the cutting board. All in all, the Petty makes for the perfect choice for any chef’s arsenal.
It’s easy to mistake a Sujihiki for a Chef’s Knife. That would be a mistake as, despite the similar looks, these two couldn’t be further apart. The Sujihiki is any chef’s first choice when it comes to trimming away fat from meat.
Due to the long blade and acute edge angle, the Sujihiki can easily cut through ingredients. This makes it great when it comes to slicing or filleting delicate fish. Sushi, for example, is much easier to cut with a Sujihiki than any other knife. If you’re a chef with a passion for fish, the Sujihiki is a knife you don’t want to ignore.
The Pankiri is a favorite among many chefs. Of course, that has more to do with the fact that it’s the only serrated widely used knife in Japan. As you would expect, this means that Pankiri is the perfect choice when it comes to cutting bread.
Unlike Western bread knives, however, the Pankiri has a long and lightweight blade that is perfect for cutting through a hard crust without crushing the soft insides. For any chef getting into Japanese kitchen knives, the Pankiri is the perfect entry point. This is especially true if you have a passion for bread.
image source wafuu-honpo.com
Are Japanese Knives Better Than Western Knives?
When it comes to knives, the Western style knife is the most popular. Most cooks not raised in Japan will be well accustomed to your typical Western kitchen knife. Many chefs today, however, are starting to discover just how wonderful a Japanese knife is. In fact, Japanese kitchen knives have started to become quite popular among a lot of forward-thinking chefs.
This rising popularity can actually raise the question of which is better. The answer, however, isn’t quite so simple. Although Japanese knives have quite a few positives to them, they also come with their fair share of negatives.
The price of a Japanese style knife, for instance, can be quite high compared to your typical German knife. Likewise, it can also be quite difficult to even get a hold of a Japanese knife. Thankfully both of these problems are starting to lessen as the popularity of Japanese knives continues to grow.
Many online retailers, for example, are starting to sell these knives at affordable prices. Pretty soon, the decision on which style of knife to use will come down to personal preference. Many Japanese knives, for example, are highly suited to cutting vegetables or delicate meats like fish.
How To Choose The Right Japanese Knife
So you have decided that a Japanese knife is right for you. Now what? How should you go about deciding on which of the many Japanese knife types is right for you?
The first step, of course, is figuring out just what exactly you need in the first place. A Pankiri or Santoku are both wonderful knives, but they are pretty pointless if you already have a favorite Chef’s knife or serrated bread knife.
If you’re looking for a change or a replacement knife, however, they can easily fit the bill. But once you know what style of knife you want, there are still a few things you should take note of.
Knife quality can vary quite widely among different knife brands. Sure, your favorite knife maker may be great at making German knives, but what about Japanese ones? It’s a good idea to check out a wide variety of brands before you make a choice.
Likewise, be sure to try out a variety of different styles of knives. Although you may only be looking for a specific style, Japanese knives have a tendency of making you second guess yourself. Before you know it, you may end up an aficionado for Japanese style knives.
The Right Knife Makes All The Difference
Cooking is fun and a good knife can go a long way in making it even more enjoyable. No matter what level of experience you have, you can never go wrong when it comes to shopping for new kitchen knives. And with the increasing popularity of Japanese knives, the amount of options you now have is greater than ever. Like their Western counterparts, these types of knives come with their own intricacies that can be a joy to explore.
No matter what type of chef you are, there’s little excuse for you not to have a Japanese style knife in your arsenal of cooking tools.