You’ve probably heard how the best tools make for better work.
This concept applies to the sushi knife. Professional chefs use a collection of handcrafted traditional Japanese sushi knives and Western sushi knives to create their food art.
Learn a brief history of the sushi knife, the various designs and their purposes, and from what they’re made.
Also, find out whether you need a collection of sushi knives for home use or the best way to perfect your sushi meals in the home environment.
History Of Sushi Knives
Sushi knives have a long and illustrious history going as far back as a millennium, beginning with handcrafting Samurai swords.
Japanese artisans later switched their attention to creating these knives in the 14th century, using similar skills and techniques.
As making and eating sushi became more popular, the extent of sushi cutlery and knife designs continued to grow.
When Japan entered the 19th century, and their civilization changed to keep up with modernity, it was no longer possible to carry Samurai swords in public.
This change in law meant that centuries of crafting the best swords transformed into a focus on producing more sushi knives.
The focus of this incredible craftsmanship centered around Sakai, which was renowned for its experience in metalwork.
Sakai had already achieved a reputation of fine metal craftsmanship by 500 A.D. The reputation continues today.
Blacksmiths use techniques passed down over a thousand years in rifle making, swords, and sushi knives, many of which are still in use.
However, this craftsmanship now concentrates on producing sushi knives with a modern flavor to aid in the fine art of making sushi, which continues to convert many new adventurous food lovers.
But how many types of sushi knives are there, and why do chefs need so many different sushi knives to perfect their food art?
Types Of Sushi Knives
Incredibly, there are over 18 sushi knife designs available on the market today. As incredible as this figure is, it is hardly surprising given the extensive history of the sushi knife.
You have various styles of sushi knives that chefs favor, and then you get the more traditional type of sushi knife that conservative users have preserved through time.
Sushi chefs need exceptionally sharp sushi knives for cutting, slicing, dicing, filleting, and more to perfect their fine art in the kitchen.
To make their work easier, sushi chefs demand the best quality sushi knife to do the job. Whether this work involves chopping fruits, vegetables, or fish, it must be of premium quality.
Whether expert chefs are making sushi (raw fish) dishes or sashimi (without rice), they use their special Japanese cutlery and sushi knife collections to create perfection in every dish.
Japanese traditional sushi knives have a distinctive characteristic–they are only honed on one side of the blade.
Single beveling on one side is a conventional practice, distinguishing the traditional sushi knife from the Western one.
Each knife has a particular use, but chefs are mainly picky about using a special sushi knife for a specific purpose.
Follow our list as we discuss the favorite sushi knife collection for chefs.
#1 Deba sushi knife
Chefs mostly use the Deba sushi knife to fillet and cut whole fish into pieces.
The design of this blade is suitable for slicing through flesh but not forced chopping from a height or chop through large bones.
The Fugubiki sushi knife is ideal for slicing delicate slivers of fish without interrupting the process. Fugubiki earns its name from the fugu blowfish, which sushi knife is also used to cut this fish.
When serving fish slivers, the plate design should remain visible through the thinly sliced fish.
This sushi knife design comes from Kansai and has a sharp pointy tip ideal for slicing thin slivers of vegetables.
Chefs use the Takobiki knife to cut strips of octopus and sashimi. The blunt tip of this sushi knife is perfect for slicing through harder foods to cut them into thin slices.
The Usuba sushi knife comes from Tokyo or the Kanto region in Japan. This knife has a square shape to cut thin slices of vegetables.
Chefs use the Yanagi sushi knife for slicing delicate sushi toppings and for thinning pieces of sashimi.
Now we move to Western sushi knife designs such as the Garasuki. With its thin, sharp point, chefs use this knife to slice fillets and easily cut through thick bones and joints.
The Garasuki is known to be a sturdier version of the Honesuki boning knife.
The Gvuto is another Western sushi knife with double beveling. Chefs use this one to chop up food like vegetables and meat. Because this knife is versatile, chefs use it a lot in their work.
Hankou sushi knives are robust, so they are perfect for paring and boning meat. In addition, this knife has a sharp heel end for balancing the tough job of deboning fish while the tip is pointed.
Other names for this sushi knife include Sakabi-Nishigata and Hankotsu-Maru.
This knife is also used for deboning poultry because the thin, sharp tip easily separates the meat from the bone.
The shape of this sushi knife differs from the Hankotsu in that the spine width decreases from the handle to the tip to provide balance.
The Honyaki sushi knife design has a sharp edge and only chefs with years of experience use this knife as it is pretty challenging to control.
Also, this knife is typically more expensive than other sushi knives as the steel material is resistant to damage.
Western sushi chefs use the Nakiri knife to chop hard vegetables because they have square ends and thin blades. This sushi knife design is suitable for pushing through hard vegetables and for fine chopping.
Chefs use this Western-style sushi knife for multiple vegetable and fruit preparation. Paring knives are suitable for peeling and slicing these foods and are specifically well-suited for preparing garnishes.
Western peeling sushi knives are appropriate for peeling fruits and vegetable skins.
Petty sushi knives are like paring knives. Chefs use this tool to create beautiful, delicate carvings for vegetable presentations.
Santoku knives have a rounder tip than most other sushi knives, making them valuable for multiple jobs such as cutting vegetables, meats, fish, and poultry.
The Sujhiki has a sharp, narrow, long blade that allows chefs to slice through meat and vegetables with minimum effort.
This sushi knife is the Western equivalent of the traditional Japanese deba, from which it takes its name.
Yo-Deba sushi knives have a similar appearance to the conventional Western butcher knife with beveling on both sides of the blade.
Chefs use this sushi knife to cut through hard frozen foods and crab shells.
Do I Need Them All?
Only top sushi chefs will have a broad collection of traditional and Western knives, which is quite an expensive investment.
Making this type of investment is only necessary, though, if you own a restaurant and have many assistants chopping, trimming, cutting, and shaping foods for customers.
Despite many sushi chefs collecting various knives, they will typically use these three traditional knives the most:
Of the Western sushi knives, professional chefs often choose to purchase the Nigiri and the KamagataUsuba.
If you want to purchase a sushi knife for home use, then the best knives to go for include:
These three sushi knives are enough to test your skills at home. You can use them for slicing sushi rolls, chopping vegetables, and doing the basics.
The Best Material For Sushi Knives
The ideal sushi knife is made from high-quality steel because this ensures a sharp blade.
Other high-quality materials that go into making these knives include carbon steel which ensures that the knives are low maintenance.
Composite steel comprises stainless steel and carbon steel to produce a top-quality product.
Sushi knives are expensive because they use the best blade materials. These knives are also costly because they are made from multiple layers of welded steel.
On the other hand, Western knives typically use one sheet of steel, which makes them more cost-effective.
If they are handmade, they are even more expensive because of the craftsmanship of the blade and the handle.
In other words, the real sushi knife is made to last with little maintenance necessary to keep its blade working at optimum levels.
The sushi knife may look humble, but its history says otherwise. From making Samurai swords, Japanese artisans eventually turned their skills to making sushi cutlery as this food form took off in Japan in the 14th century.
Later, as Samurai swords became illegal, the art of making the sushi knife improved further. Today, the sushi knife is also used in the West by Western and Japanese chefs.
You can improve your sushi-making skills by starting with an essential collection of three knives. You can also buy cost-effective Western sushi knife designs to begin as the Japanese handmade knives can be costly.