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Make the cut with Japanese knives

One of the most important kitchen tools, Japanese knives can help bring perfection into your food presentations

india Updated: Jan 26, 2013 17:55 IST
Rupali Dean

If you are a lover of Japanese food, and passionate about whipping up the cuisine in the comfort of your kitchen, you must know that it’s not just about flavours.

Renowned for its elegant presentation, Japanese cuisine elevates the enjoyment level on the table and raises the appreciation from those who eat it. The Japanese are known for making some of the world’s best knives. Their cuisine relies heavily on intricate knife skills from cuts of sashimi, to the artistic fruit and vegetable carving. A willing hand, a creative mind to work the knife is all it takes to get that whimsical charm to your food. Interestingly, not all Japanese knives are the same. However, the central core of any good Japanese knife is hard steel that is both tough and can be easily sharpened to a keen edge. These knives are supposed to glide right through the food item as one is slicing it. On a traditional vein, these knives are of two kinds based on the forging methods — ‘Honyaki’, which is made from true forged high carbon steel. And ‘Kasumi’, which is made through forging high carbon steel and soft iron together.

As a matter of fact, most sushi chefs love single bevel knives (Yanagi Ba), as they are very easy to sharpen. With a single bevel knife, they can easily achieve a razor-sharp edge day after day. Chef Sabyasachi Gorai says, “I prefer Kyocera ceramic knives, as they are made of an advanced, high-tech ceramic called zirconia, which is second in hardness only to diamond. The best part about these knives is that they don’t bend, corrode or require constant re-sharpening, and are easy to maintain, apart from being extremely light.”.

Here’s how you should go about choosing a knife for your kitchen:
A good knife should be foraged from high-quality, high carbon, no stain steel and never be made of stainless steel. It should be nicely balanced with a good heft to it and must be stored in the cover it came with, or on a wall mounted magnetic strip. Here’s what you must stock up in your kitchen:

Chef’s knife
With a 6 to 12 inch blade and 1-1/2 inches deep to the widest point. This all-purpose knife is great for chopping, slicing, dicing and mincing.

Paring knife
Owing to its size, ie, 3-4 inches long and about 3/4 inches deep, it feels like a part of your hand and is brilliant for peeling, coring, trimming, etc.

Serrated bread knife
This 9 inch long knife is perfect for cutting soft produce apart from crusty breads and cakes.