Today, Japanese kitchen knives are one of the most treasured kitchen cutlery in the world. They are one of those things that define a modern kitchen and its domination in the ‘kitchen world’ cannot be over-emphasized. They are one of those things that you will notice in almost all the cooking TV shows in Mexico, Japan and in any other part of the world. There is no major knife brand in the world that stands out as so spectacularly modern, untainted steel right from the tip to the base. There are the cheap Japanese chef knife sets under $100 that are popularly known all over the world.
As a result of its popularity, one of the main challenges being faced by the developers of the Japanese kitchen knives is forgery. As a chef, cook or a shopper you need to be able to differentiate between an original from a fake one so as to avoid being a forgers victim. One distinguishing feature of a Japanese kitchen knife is that, they are lightweight and have very sharp edges. In addition, their steel blades are very firm unlike the other knives which are usually flexible. Its unbending ability makes it easier to maintain their sharp edges. (Read about sharpening your kitchen knives here)
It is only Japan that has its own unique techniques of designing kitchen knives. At first, Japanese kitchen knives were designed to achieve the exceptional cutting needs that was required when preparing their own (Japanese) food e.g. sushi. Cutting raw fish with precision was the main consideration when developing the knives. Just visit any Japanese restaurant and you will definitely notice how specific they are when preparing a delicate raw fish slices and their quick act of chopping vegetable. Their finesse is only achieved as a result of the carefully designed Japanese knives.
The Sushi knife for instance, has been specifically designed to perform ‘surgeon-precision’ slices of raw fish even with limited effort. Perhaps, one of the most identifiable of the Japanese Kitchen knives is the extremely resourceful santoku knife. It is made unique by its exceptional style and finish. It has a flat edged blade that is characterized by some distinctive markings. As a result of its functional style and unique design, santoku is one of the most celebrated of the Japanese knives and is a darling to most celebrity chefs.
Japanese kitchen knives have gone global and are some of the top rated knives in the world. One problem though is that, not everybody has the skills to make the best out of the knives. Poor use of these knives can really ruin one’s reputation and to others it can be a waste of money. Some people only buy these Japanese knives to be envied by their friends and hence they end up not using the knife to its full potential. It is therefore important to take time and understand or rather familiarize yourself with your specific culinary desires and needs. To help you on this point, I’d like to refer you to a book titled Japanese Kitchen Knives written by chef Nozaki.