A GUIDE TO SUSHI AND SASHIMI KNIVES - HandCraft Damascus Art

Sushi and Sashimi are centuries old Japanese dishes whose elaborate and rich processes are incomplete without specialised Japanese kitchen knives used in different ways during the preparation of these dishes. In Japan, the Sushi and Sashimi preparation has been evolved into a kind of refined art, forcing the chefs to make delicate and precise cuts.
Sushi is more than just the preparation of fish and includes everything from vinegar-infused rice to vegetables. Sashimi comprises of very thin slices of raw seafood, mostly fish.
The Sushi chef is also an entertainer at the sushi bar besides being a chef. The presentation of Sushi and its show are as important as the food itself. Knife skill remains an integral part of this culinary experience. While watching the food being prepared through chef’s skills, the guests get a chance to witness various types of knives used in the Sushi or Sashimi preparation.


Sushi and Sashimi Preparation


A wide range of traditional Japanese kitchen knives are used in Sushi and Sashimi preparation. To prepare Sushi or Sashimi, the chefs usually need about four to five different types of sharp Japanese kitchen knives at all times. Maintaining the food’s flavour is the main thing in the preparation process as the chefs need razor-sharp slicers to shear off thin pieces of the fish That is the point which keeps the guests coming back to see the magic.
The different types of knives that chefs use in the preparation of Sushi or Sashimi include:


• Deba Knife
• Gyuto Knife
• Santoku Knife
• Usuba Knife
• Nakiri knife


Deba Knife


In Japan, deba is known as Hon-deba that literally means “true deba”. In Japan, the traditional deba knives are used in cleaning and filleting whole fish. Due to their impressive weight, the knives assist the chef to chop through the bones with their sturdy heel section. Deba knife is mostly used to chop the small to medium-sized fish.
Small may be in size, but these knives are strong and wide, and resemble something of a cross between the Gyuto and the meat cleaver. The single-bevel (single-sided) Deba knife has an obtuse angle on its heel due to which it performs the job well for the heavy-duty fish cutting tasks such as cutting off the heads of fish. The rest of the Deba knife blade does filleting and cutting bones in fish.
As a Sushi knife, the Deba isn’t necessary for a home sushi chef but it could be a part of the Sushi knife set for professional chefs. The presence of Deba knife in chefs’ knives collection makes things a lot easier for them. Generally, the professional Sushi chefs use Deba knives on the whole fish for Sushi. The fish mostly comes in blocks at homes, so there is no need for filleting the fish. In Sushi restaurants, the fish comes whole direct from the fish markets. Therefore, it requires cutting off the head and filleting the fish.


Gyuto and Santoku Knives


In the absence of the deba knife, chefs use the standard Gyuto knife to work on fish for Sushi or Sashimi. Both Gyuto and Santoku are multi-purpose kitchen knives used to chop, slice, or dice a large range of ingredients to prepare Sushi or Sashimi. For this purpose, the knives are kept extremely sharp.
However, if chefs yearn for the authentic Sushi-making experience, they might need true Sushi knives like Usuba knives.


Usuba Knife


This vegetable knife is more commonly used in fine peeling or to make very fine and delicate cuts. These knives are best in cutting fruits and vegetables to be served raw. They have thin but extremely sharp blades that glide through the vegetables and cut surfaces with minimal cellular damage. An Usuba cut preserves the flavour in addition to keeping the cut surfaces fresh for longer. Ingredients cut with Usuba knives do not discolour or lose flavor from the oxidation. Due to their versatile midsection blade, the Usuba knives thinly slice the vegetables and being relatively tall and long, the Usuba blade handles the larger ingredients like cabbages.


Nakiri Knife


The Nakiri is a Western-style double-bevel vegetable knife. Its rectangular profile comprises a tall thin blade better suited for a Sushi kitchen. Chefs can use the Nakiri knife to quickly chop, slice and mince fruits and vegetables. These knives are fairly easy to make straight cuts in home made Sushi ingredients.
Ultimately, the choice of sushi and sashimi knives often depends upon a chef’s personal preferences. Some chefs like to work with the double-bevel Western-style all-purpose Gyuto and Santoku kitchen knives. For some professional Sushi and Sashimi chefs, the preparation process remains an integral part of the cooking. That means chefs are likely to work with the true Sushi and Sashimi specialty knives to work on the ingredients used in the preparation process. These knives need high-maintenance and must be kept sharpened to maintain their razor-sharp edges.

Sushi and Sashimi are centuries old Japanese dishes whose elaborate and rich processes are incomplete without specialised Japanese kitchen knives used in different ways during the preparation of these dishes. In Japan, the Sushi and Sashimi preparation has been evolved into a kind of refined art, forcing the chefs to make delicate and precise cuts.
Sushi is more than just the preparation of fish and includes everything from vinegar-infused rice to vegetables. Sashimi comprises of very thin slices of raw seafood, mostly fish.
The Sushi chef is also an entertainer at the sushi bar besides being a chef. The presentation of Sushi and its show are as important as the food itself. Knife skill remains an integral part of this culinary experience. While watching the food being prepared through chef’s skills, the guests get a chance to witness various types of knives used in the Sushi or Sashimi preparation.


Sushi and Sashimi Preparation


A wide range of traditional Japanese kitchen knives are used in Sushi and Sashimi preparation. To prepare Sushi or Sashimi, the chefs usually need about four to five different types of sharp Japanese kitchen knives at all times. Maintaining the food’s flavour is the main thing in the preparation process as the chefs need razor-sharp slicers to shear off thin pieces of the fish That is the point which keeps the guests coming back to see the magic.
The different types of knives that chefs use in the preparation of Sushi or Sashimi include:


• Deba Knife
• Gyuto Knife
• Santoku Knife
• Usuba Knife
• Nakiri knife


Deba Knife


In Japan, deba is known as Hon-deba that literally means “true deba”. In Japan, the traditional deba knives are used in cleaning and filleting whole fish. Due to their impressive weight, the knives assist the chef to chop through the bones with their sturdy heel section. Deba knife is mostly used to chop the small to medium-sized fish.
Small may be in size, but these knives are strong and wide, and resemble something of a cross between the Gyuto and the meat cleaver. The single-bevel (single-sided) Deba knife has an obtuse angle on its heel due to which it performs the job well for the heavy-duty fish cutting tasks such as cutting off the heads of fish. The rest of the Deba knife blade does filleting and cutting bones in fish.
As a Sushi knife, the Deba isn’t necessary for a home sushi chef but it could be a part of the Sushi knife set for professional chefs. The presence of Deba knife in chefs’ knives collection makes things a lot easier for them. Generally, the professional Sushi chefs use Deba knives on the whole fish for Sushi. The fish mostly comes in blocks at homes, so there is no need for filleting the fish. In Sushi restaurants, the fish comes whole direct from the fish markets. Therefore, it requires cutting off the head and filleting the fish.


Gyuto and Santoku Knives


In the absence of the deba knife, chefs use the standard Gyuto knife to work on fish for Sushi or Sashimi. Both Gyuto and Santoku are multi-purpose kitchen knives used to chop, slice, or dice a large range of ingredients to prepare Sushi or Sashimi. For this purpose, the knives are kept extremely sharp.
However, if chefs yearn for the authentic Sushi-making experience, they might need true Sushi knives like Usuba knives.


Usuba Knife


This vegetable knife is more commonly used in fine peeling or to make very fine and delicate cuts. These knives are best in cutting fruits and vegetables to be served raw. They have thin but extremely sharp blades that glide through the vegetables and cut surfaces with minimal cellular damage. An Usuba cut preserves the flavour in addition to keeping the cut surfaces fresh for longer. Ingredients cut with Usuba knives do not discolour or lose flavor from the oxidation. Due to their versatile midsection blade, the Usuba knives thinly slice the vegetables and being relatively tall and long, the Usuba blade handles the larger ingredients like cabbages.


Nakiri Knife


The Nakiri is a Western-style double-bevel vegetable knife. Its rectangular profile comprises a tall thin blade better suited for a Sushi kitchen. Chefs can use the Nakiri knife to quickly chop, slice and mince fruits and vegetables. These knives are fairly easy to make straight cuts in home made Sushi ingredients.
Ultimately, the choice of sushi and sashimi knives often depends upon a chef’s personal preferences. Some chefs like to work with the double-bevel Western-style all-purpose Gyuto and Santoku kitchen knives. For some professional Sushi and Sashimi chefs, the preparation process remains an integral part of the cooking. That means chefs are likely to work with the true Sushi and Sashimi specialty knives to work on the ingredients used in the preparation process. These knives need high-maintenance and must be kept sharpened to maintain their razor-sharp edges.

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