包丁の種類-japanese-chef-knife-musashihamono

Type of kitchen knife

 

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Traditional Japanese knives have been hand-made by skilled artisans for centuries in areas of Japan like Sakai and Seki City. Their culture produces and uses knives that can be quite different from the Western part of the world. However, Westerners are growing more fond of certain types of Japanese knives and finding that they are quite useful for certain tasks in the kitchen.

 

In this digital age we live in, it’s much more likely that the average home chef will stumble upon pictures or stories of traditional Japanese knives. Beyond that, with the invention of online shopping and globalization, it’s exponentially easier to purchase them from the comfort of your own home.

 

There are many different types of traditional Japanese kitchen knives, but we’ll focus just on the more popular ones in our discussion below.

 

Japanese Knife Types

 

 

데바

 

The Deba is a knife often used in filleting whole fish in Japan. Its blade is thick and heavy-duty for the tough tasks given to it. A Japanese Deba knife is most often called upon when cutting through the head and bones of a whole fish during the filleting process, but it can be used on other types of meat as well.

 

규토

 

The Gyuto knife is the Japanese version of the Western chef’s knife. A perfect all-purpose knife for numerous tasks around the kitchen. Unlike the Santoku Knife, they can be used with a rocking motion due to their slightly curved blade. Gyuto knives are very versatile and can be used for chopping meat or vegetables as well as cutting fish.

 

키리츠게

 

The Kiritsuke knife is unique looking with its angled tip. Some of the longer ones can almost look like a short sword! Kiritsuke knives do a great job of slicing cooked meat. They are well-known for being difficult to use. In traditional Japanese culture, only experienced executive chefs in a restaurant are allowed to use it.

 

나키리

 

The Japanese Nakiri knife is popular among home chefs for precise cuts like the julienne for vegetables. They also work well for harder products with thick skins such as potatoes and squash. Nakiri knives are similar to Usuba knives but with a Western twist. It has a double bevel, making it easier for home chefs and beginners to use than the more complex Usuba.

 

페티

 

A Petty knife is a small utility or paring knife that’s used by Japanese chefs for delicate work on small fruits and vegetables. Very similar to a Western paring knife, a petty can be used for both styling fruits in a presentation manner or as a utility knife for preparing meals. This makes the petty knife a multipurpose tool and important to have around.

 

산토쿠

 

Santoku knives are used for all sorts of tasks around the kitchen. They are used to cut meat, fish, and vegetables. They have a rounded tip and flat blade, so they are used with a chopping motion rather than a rocking motion like the Western chef’s knife. Like other Japanese knives, the Santoku knives have strong, thin blades.

 

스지히키

 

A Sujihiki knife is made with a long thin blade, typically with a double bevel. Similar to a Western slicing knife, it is a thinner, harder blade that requires less sharpening. The blade’s edge angle is also sharper, which is made possible because of the harder Japanese steel. This slicer makes quick work of meat, fish, and poultry.

 

우스바

 

The Usuba knife is used for intricate vegetable cutting, like julienne and dicing. They are single-beveled and thus take more skill to use than a Nakiri. However, once mastered, they can make magically thin cuts. Most Usuba knives have a squared tip, but the ones from the Kansai region are rounded at the tip.

 

Yanagiba

 

The Yanagiba knife is very long, very sharp, and very hard. It’s a high-end knife popular among sashimi chefs as it makes the ideal knife for sushi preparation. Their length allows them to slice through almost anything with a single, long slice rather than a back-and-forth motion. This, paired with a traditional single-bevel, gives the user a very clean-looking cut.

 

 

 

Japanese Knife Characteristics

 

There are a few features of Japanese knives that make them unique from their Western counterparts. Reasons for the distinction range from traditional knife making processes to the difference and variety in food from these different regions. Not only are the food different, but also their methods of preparation. 

 

Steels & Hardness

 

The Japanese people use harder steels with higher carbon content than most other regions of the world. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to this. The benefit of this is increased blade retention, which means sharpening is not needed as often. However, this also means their blades are more brittle and can chip under certain conditions if not used properly. The higher carbon content also means the possibility of rust or corrosion if not kept clean and dry immediately after use.

 

Edge Angles

 

Asian knives tend to have sharper angles than Western knives. This is made possible by the harder steels mentioned above. In addition, it’s not uncommon to see single-bevel knives in Japan. This is a rarity in the West.

 

Blade Thickness

 

Their blades are thinner, partly due to the sharper angles, but also because Japanese chefs do more finesse work with their knives. Also, their diets consist of more fish and poultry and less beef and other tough meats with large bones.

 

Flat Blades

 

Most of the time, you’ll see traditional Japanese knives with a flat blade. This assists them in the chopping motion that is used often in their cooking, whereas Western chefs tend to use more of a rocking motion with a curved blade.