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Japan is the land of long-standing traditions, where years of accumulated knowledge and experience are passed down from master to apprentice and from teacher to pupil. This is true for Japanese knives as well.
Traditional Japanese knives were originally derived from Japanese sword craftsmanship and the techniques have since been handed down from generation to generation and perfected over time.
The kitchen knives you use on a daily basis, either in a professional culinary environment or in your home kitchen, are one of two basic types—Western European kitchen knives or Japanese kitchen knives.
We present to you the various types of Japanese kitchen knives.
Originating in the Kansai (Osaka) region, the yanagiba—also called ‘shobu’—is the typical long thin, narrow blade that most people call a ‘sushi knife’. The yanagiba is most often used to slice boneless fish fillets into sashimi and toppings for sushi and its graceful, thin blade cuts beautiful slices in one long, drawing stroke.
The gyuto knife is the Japanese equivalent of the standard Western European French knife. It is an all-round kitchen chore knife and is commonly tall at the heel, has a reasonably flat profile toward the heel for chopping, a belly toward the tip of the blade for rock cutting, and a pointed tip for precision work. This makes it practically the only knife needed in the kitchen.
Originating in the Kanto region of Japan, the usuba is a traditional Japanese knife used to cut or make thin sheets of vegetables. The usuba is recognized by the rectangular blade and the somewhat rounded front edge of the blade. The literal translation of ‘usuba’ is `thin blade’ and without this incredibly sharp and thin blade, the knife would break down the cell walls of vegetables, causing ingredients to discolour and decrease in flavour.
Another knife originating in Kansai region of Japan, the deba is often used while working with whole fish, because it is designed to behead and fillet the fish without damaging it. Many chefs and cooks use it for cutting bones, although this is not a recommended task for this knife. For the best results, it is suggested to put pressure on the spine of the knife to get clean and precise cuts.