If you have ever used a Japanese knife in your kitchen, you might have felt that working with it was more comfortable than with other knives. Even at a higher price, it is an excellent and essential tool in the hands of any chef or home cook. What is the secret to the quality of Japanese knives, and what is the difference between them and knives from Western countries?
Compared to Western knives, Japanese knives are thinner and lighter with a better balance between blade and handle. The properties of the blade’s steel are the key to the good quality of these knives.
Carbon steel knives contain more carbon, so they’re typically harder, 60 to 62 on the Rockwell scale, and more durable than the Western blades, which have a maximum hardness of around 58.
Japanese knives require more care and better maintenance than stainless steel knives due to corrosion that can form on the surface. It is better not to use them in wet conditions and to dry them after use. But, why are Japanese knives more popular? When air makes contact with the surface of a blade, a patina is formed that adds personality, history and beauty to a knife. Further, carbon steel has a better balance between edge sharpness, edge retention and ease of sharpening than stainless steel.
If you often work with salty food, fruit or wet food, then stainless steel knives are an option to consider because of their better anticorrosive properties. These days, you can often read about high carbon stainless steel knives. They are a group of knives made through a unique powder metallurgy technique. They are referred to as “powdered high-speed tool steel knives”. They have excellent properties, but they are costly. If you are a culinary professional, you should consider purchasing one of these knives.
German knives have a double bevel with angle of approximately 20 degrees. Japanese knives are often single bevel with an angle of 12 to 15 degrees, so chopping and making clean slices is more natural. They are mostly designed for right-handed people. If you are left-handed, please be careful to order the correct model, and it may sometimes be necessary to make a special order. There are also some Japanese knives that are doubled bevelled.
Popular brands are Shun, Miyabi, Global, Mac, Misono, Takamura, Tsukiji Masamoto, Aritsugu, Nenox, Haku, Sakai Takayuki, Sakon, Seki Kantsugu, Ikkaku Donryu, Ajimisaku and Kyocera
Next time, we will write about the different types of knives, how to choose the right blade and provide tips on how to care for a Japanese knife.
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