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Kitchen Knives Basics – Must Know Facts About Kitchen Knives

kitchen knives

It’s a fact that whenever you go into the kitchen to do some cooking, a knife is something you will use every time. When dealing with kitchen knives, we must know some basic facts about it so that we can utilize this awesome tool to its maximum. Let’s find out what the knife is.

What is a kitchen knife?

“A knife is a tool with a cutting edge or blade attached to a handle.

Humankind’s first tool, knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldtown tools.

Originally made of rock, bone, over the centuries, in step with improvements in metallurgy or manufacture, knife blades have been made from bronze, copper, iron, steel, ceramics, and titanium.

Although most modern knives have either fixed or folding blades, blade patterns and styles vary by maker and country of origin”. wikipedia

Types of Kitchen Knives:

Generally, there are 3 types of knife shapes used and manufactured around the world.

  1. French Knife
  2. German Knife
  3. Japanese Knife

French knife is straighter along the cutting edge, and it curves upward to the tip.

french style kitchen knife

German knives are continuously curved along the cutting edge.

german chef knife

Japanese knives are basically the Japanese version of French knives.

Let us explain some physical characteristics of a Japanese Knife.

Physical characteristics Of a Japanese Knife:

Japanese Knives come with 2 types of blades

  1. Forged Blades
  2. Stamped Blades

FORGED BLADE

They are manually processed by skilled labors and workers.

The blades are heated and beaten to form a shape and then sharpened.

They are also called full-tang (one piece), i.e., the mettle of the knife starts from the very tip of the blade to the far end of the handle.

STAMPED BLADE

They are cut directly from the cold rolled sheet, undergo heat treatment to get the strength, sharpened, and finally polished.

Here, we can further divide these 2 types of blades into 4 sub types.

  1. Carbon steel blades
  2. Stainless steel blades
  3. A laminate of both
  4. Ceramic blades

Carbon Steel Blades:

Carbon steel blades are made up of the mix of iron and a percentage of carbon.

The chefs and cooks of Asia and middle east like and prefer this type of blades to use in daily routine.

pros n cons carbon steel knife

Stainless Steel Blades:

These blades are an alloy of iron, chromium (resist rust and corrosion), and Nickel.

It has a very low percentage of carbon.

The stainless-steel blades come with a high grade of steel and are extremely sharp.

It easily outperforms carbon blades.

Pros n cons stainless steel blades

Laminated Blades:

A laminated knife is the mix of both hard and breakable steel.

It has a good edge.

It is more fragile and can easily be damaged or chipped off.

Ceramic Blades:

These are the hard ones.

They are short in length and lighter in weight.

They hold their edge longer.

Due to its hardness, it is less tough. 

These kind of knives are best for fruit and vegetable cutting.

Also Read:

kitchen knives

Structure of a Japanese Knife

Japanese kitchen knives are generally used for food processing.

The steel used to make these knives is also used to make Samurai swords.

These knives consist of 4 common characteristics.

  1. Handle
  2. Blade
  3. Steel
  4. Construction
knife structure

Handle:

Japanese handles are generally made up of wood, which is burned and friction-fitted to an inner tang. A buffalo horn bolster caps the handle of the blade.

A common shape in Japanese handles is D-shape, has a ridge running along one side, and mostly right side for right-hand use.

Chefs who like to use big and heavier knives often choose Japanese knives for their daily food processing work.

Blade:

During the period of the 1860s – 1890s, Japan adopted French and German cutlery traditions and merged it with their own cutlery traditions and techniques.

Japanese divide their knife blades into 8 different types, and every blade type carries its own characteristics.

  • Gyuto (Beef Sword):

This is known as the “Chef Knife” and mostly used in western cuisine.

It is used in chopping vegetables from near the heel of the knife.

It is also used to do the rock chops to stiffer products.

Because of its shape, it’s easy to do the Pull cuts and Push Cuts to different meat kinds.

It normally comes in 2 sizes.

210mm and 270mm

210mm is pretty handy and agile.

It’s popular to do quick jobs.

Of course, the 270mm knife, on the other hand, is larger in size. It has more slicing power, but due to its larger size, handling it is a bit tricky.

  • Bunka Bocho OR Santoku:

The most popular knife used in Japanese homes.

==> Mostly used for vegetables and fish cutting.

It’s more of a flat kind and has less pointy tips.

It’s not good to use for western cutting techniques.

Size: 165mm – 180mm

  • Nakiri:

Nakiri KnifeIt has certainly a very robust look and feel because of its square tip.

It has a flat edge.

Some variants of this knife have a slight tilt in the blade towards the handle.

This makes the wrist in a more comfortable position and easy to apply wrist power.

This knife is a good alternative to Bunka Bocho.

Size: 165mm – 180mm

  • Hankotsu:

This is the butcher knife used for cattle cutting.

It is used for cutting meat from the bones of a hanging animal.

Size: 150mm

  • Chukabocho:

Commonly known as Chinese Chef Knife.

It has a relatively small handle as well as a large and thicker blade.

It’s used to make denser cuts and also used to cut bones.

  • Yanagiba:

This kind of knife is mostly used to cut fish.

It’s really handy to highlight different textures of fish.

Used for skin and scale fish.

Tips of the knife are angled and heavier.

Size: 270mm – 330mm

  • Deba:

Deba knife is used to cut through fish flesh and bones.

  • Usuba:

This is the thinnest of all general knives and mostly used for push cutting.

This knife comes in 2 variants;

Square-tipped knife and Round-tipped knife.

Size: 180mm – 240mm

  • Magurokiri:

The Tuna expert.

This knife is used to cut perpendicular or parallel to Tuna.

The knife size is just according to Tuna fish.

Size: 400mm – 1500mm

kitchen knives

Steel:

Japanese knives are generally known for the following…

  • Toughness
  • Sharpness
  • Easy to sharp
  • Edge life
  • Edge quality

Steel knives are tougher, less chip, but less sharp than Carbon blade knife.

Stainless steel blade knives are of 2 types.

  1. Powdered Steel (Powdered under high temperature and pressure).
  2. Semi Stainless (it’s the mix of carbon and stainless steel. It has less chromium to prevent rust).

Carbon Steel blade knife is…

  • Sharper
  • Harder
  • Less tough
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Quicker to rust

Construction:

Talking about the making or construction of a Japanese knife, there are two types of blades.

  1. Monosteel blades
  2. Laminated blades

Monosteel blades are thinner than laminated blades and are harder to sharpen.

Laminated blades are a mix of 2 types of steel.

  1. Jigane
  2. Hagane

Both of them contain steel and carbon, which makes the knife easy to sharpen, corrosive, and shock resistant.

Conclusion:

When you are searching for the perfect knife to have in your kitchen, it all depends on your preferences and use.

What am saying is that no knife is perfect. There are, and always will be, some pluses and some minuses with every kind of knife. But the choice gets a bit easier when you break down your choice of knife by asking yourself, “I need a knife for what purpose?”

Some prefer the stainless steel look of the knife, while some prefer carbon knives. Some are expensive, and some are cheap. But none of them will burn a hole in your pocket.

kitchen knives

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