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Sushi knives guide

Nůž na sushi

If you want to prepare and serve a good sushi you always need a good knife. The special sushi knives are necessary kitchen utensil for Japanese chefs as well as for everyone who do not want to compromise their meal by crushed or wrongly sliced rolls.

Advantages (briefly)

  1. Easier cutting
  2. No crushed rolls
  3. More safety
  4. Joy of easy and precise cutting

Types of sushi knives

Making sushi has a long tradition and there are multiple ways, for some of which sashimi knives can be also useful. The most common worldwide is the western style sushi prepared usually with precise yanagiba knives. The ones who prepare this popular oriental meal more often will also appreciate the other members of sashimi and sushi knife family which are deba (handy when cutting through fish bones) or usuba (ideal for vegetables). Sushi knives handicraft has about 7 centuries of tradition in Japan. After prohibition of carrying samurai knives in 19th century, a lot of experienced craftsmen changed their orientation to sushi knives cutlery. Nowadays the masters still hand over their art down to new generations.

Sushi knives are famous for their extreme sharpness, untypical for traditional European ones. It is important to cut with sharp knife because the rolls should be precise and should not be crushed. The serving etiquette is considered seriously especially in Japan. Furthermore blunt knives are very often the reasons of injuries because there is higher pressure needed.  It really makes significant difference and therefore it is also needed to sharpen the edge frequently.

The edge can be single or double bevelled. They are made of high carbon steel or stainless steel. Both have pros and cons. Carbon steel blades are sharpest possible but they rust so be sure they are absolutely dry after washing them.

The main features and how to utilize them

  • The knives are very long (total length often exceeds 30 cm)
  • Thin and hard but elastic blade
  • Very sharp and smooth edge (to make separation of food easier)

Properly sharpen thin blade of yanagiba knife is designed to do best job on cutting the rolls with a single fluent swift motion. There should not be involved too strong push from above. The most effective way of cutting is from a heel of the blade to its tip. It also prevents from hard hits onto your chopping board which makes the knife blunt more quickly.

Every knife needs to be kept sharp, but for sushi knife the sharpening is crucial. Japanese chefs often sharpen the knives at the end of every workday and let them rest over the night so they will be ready next day.  Sharpening stones are the best choice – whetstones or water stones. Remember the blade is very thin a delicate. Two firm strokes are enough for each part of the edge.

Of course this knife has broader utilization so even if you are not preparing sushi every day you can find it handy for fish carving, working with meat etc.

Practical advices

  • Do not let anything distract you while working with the knife. Keep the children out of the kitchen. Note that careless handling can be very dangerous
  • Store the knife wrapped and separately from other utensils
  • Cut the rolls while they are still warm
  • Cut only with utterly clean blade (without stuck or dried rice etc.)
  • Remember to wipe or wash it more often when cutting acid things e.g. lemons
  • Do not cut frozen food with a sushi knife
  • Do not put the knife in a dishwasher
  • Stainless steel knives cut better with wet blade



Periods: Japan Kitchen Knife

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