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Traditional Japanese knife styles

Japanese culinary tradition calls for a different knife for just about every task. Frankly, the variety can be a little daunting. That's why Shun offers a select group of Japanese-style knives that give you the precision of specialized tool combined with the versatility of a multi-purpose tool. Here are some of our favorites:

Japanese culinary tradition calls for a different knife for just about every task. Frankly, the variety can be a little daunting. That's why Shun offers a select group of Japanese-style knives that give you the precision of specialized tool combined with the versatility of a multi-purpose tool. Here are some of our favorites:

SANTOKU. A santoku is an Asian-inspired chef’s knife. A santoku is a knife of many talents; some cooks even prefer a santoku to a chef’s knife. While some have a completely straight edge, the slight belly curve on the Shun santoku enables you to rock the blade slightly and makes this santoku as easy to use as a chef’s knife. It is especially well suited to the down-and-forward cutting motion known as a push cut. The santoku usually comes in 7- or 5-inch blade lengths.
HONESUKIThe triangular blade of this Japanese boning knife is perfect for maneuvering around bones and between joints. The shape provides a high level of control enabling the user to process poultry and other proteins with ease. The razor-sharp blade makes removing breasts from bone simple and it cuts through joint cartilage almost like butter. Scoring and trimming is a breeze, too—and the blade’s spine can be used for scraping as well.
NAKIRI“Nakiri” is Japanese for “vegetable knife.” Cooks around the world choose this beautiful and extremely useful tool when preparing fruits or vegetables. With its straight blade, edge, and spine, the nakiri isn’t rocked like a chef’s knife. Instead, it is used with a simple push cut—down and forward. A fine dice of onions is fast, easy, and the nakiri’s blunt end makes it safer, too.
MENKIRIIn Japan, a menkiri is a noodle-cutting knife. The long, straight, razor-sharp edge contacts the cutting board completely to make cutting a folded sheet of fresh noodle dough almost effortless. Of course, in the same way that it can help you cut beautiful, even, delicious noodles, it is equally adept at cutting a full range of fresh, homemade pastas. And it even provides excellent cutting control for slicing vegetables.
KIRITSUKEThe kiritsuke is known as the Japanese master chef’s knife. It is used for a wide variety of kitchen tasks, similar to a chef’s knife. It works extremely well with vegetables. Julienne, dice, or brunoise; shave chives and scallions. It’s also an excellent choice for cleaning and portioning boneless proteins, and particularly fish. It slices cooked proteins with grace and ease. In fact, it’s so sharp and fine that some even use it in place of a mandolin.
DEBAMost often used to process fish and poultry, this traditional Japanese knife may be used to fillet fish, cut through small bones and skin, bone poultry, and cut meat. A deba is a single-bevel knife—sharpened on only one side of the blade—has a wider blade, a dropped point, and a curved belly. The Shun deba features the traditional slightly hollow-ground back to help food release quickly from the blade. Debas come in a variety of lengths.

Written by David Zaratzian — August 25, 2018

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