A polite battle is currently being fought over whether the best sashimi knife is Japanese or from the West. Lines drawn over the issue have seen each side staking a claim for what they feel is a superior product which is more suitable for the task chefs are undertaking.
There may be confusion over the difference between sashimi and sushi. Indeed, quite often interchangeable terms are used, which is incorrect:
- Sashimi refers to raw proteins cut into thin The proteins used are mostly seafood, like tuna, mackerel, salmon, shrimp, octopus, clams, and sea bream, but it does occasionally also include red meat.
- Sushi is the rice that is prepared and mixed with different fresh ingredients, which can include raw fish, but doesn’t necessarily need to do so.
When looking at the differences between Western knives and Japanese knives, the obvious design choice with Japanese cutting implements is the honing on a single side. The default side is the right side, ideal for a right-handed person. It is possible to order a Japanese knife that is honed on the left side for a left-handed person too, but this less typical.
The reason for the single-sided approach to honing with Japanese knives in general, and sashimi and sushi knives, in particular, is that when sharpened only on one side, the blade is sharper. With traditional Western knives that are sharp on both sides, the level of sharpness is significantly reduced with the double-edged knives seen most often in the kitchens in the USA. Of course, it is now possible to purchase Japanese and Western knives here, giving the chef the ultimate choice about what knife they wish to use for both sashimi and sushi preparation.
Japanese knives have a Western influence to them which is evident in the design. However, unlike Western cutting implements which have a double-edged blade ground 50:50 in the shape of a “V”, sashimi knives have an asymmetrical, thinner edge. The edge is usually 90:10, 70:30 or 60:40 depending on the design. In the USA, the most commonly marketed blade is the 70:30 version which is less extreme.
A Japanese knife in a Western style is called Gyuto. These don’t have as much of a curve as the 50:50 Western knife designs, with an edge that runs to a sharp tip. A Japanese brand often features hard carbon steel that’s less stainless than German steel but has an acute bevel that feels different in the hand along with a weight profile that isn’t the same as a Western knife.
German knives, which are one of the more modern Western countries that make blades, feature a protective bolster and a full tang blade (a single piece of steel). Steel crafted from Solingen in Germany is used in many knives from German brands which are resistant to rust, hold a sharp edge better, and are easy to sharpen.
What’s Included with The Best Sashimi Knife
A sashimi knife, packaged in a box, is custom designed to fit the model correctly. The product sits inside the cut out within the packaging for a secure fit that ensures that the knife stays in place during transit. Foam is often used as part of the packaging material to avoid the knife becoming damaged. An informational leaflet is usually included, slotted into the interior of the lid, confirming the particulars about the knife purchased.
What to Know Before Making a Purchase
It is possible to buy a Western or a Japanese knife to create either sashimi or sushi successfully. The advantage of a Japanese knife intended for use exclusively with this type of food is that it is sharper and so can slice through fish and seafood using longer, cleaner cuts. Extremely thin cuts of fish are also possible with an actual sashimi knife, which is rarely the case with a Western one not designed for preparing sashimi.
There are several types of cuts used by skilled sushi and sashimi chefs who get judged on how skillfully they cut their fish. Depending on the kind of fish or seafood, the produce can be very expensive which leaves little room for error. Incorrectly slicing up a fish or seafood isn’t an action that it is possible to correct after the fact. For this reason, Japanese people would never choose a Western blade for the task.
With that said, for homeowners who respect German craftsmanship and believe their blades are superior, there are plenty of good choices of knives that are sharp enough for sashimi and rice roll preparation.
A Western knife is cheaper in most cases compared to an imported Japanese brand. It is also more versatile in the sense that the same blade may be used to slice through vegetables and prepare meats for cooking. For chefs who don’t feel the need to own a separate knife for each cutting task, a Western blade will certainly be more appropriate for them because they’ll enjoy more flexibility.
Gift box presentation is important to many people, and most knives arrive in packaging suitable for gift giving.
Equinox Professional make knives with sharpened German steel, an ABS handle, and sold in an attractive gift box. Their knives are suitable for slicing and dicing different types of produce, rather than only useful for preparing sashimi and sushi.
Sekizo Yanagiba manufactures 14-inch sashimi knives with eight 1/8-inch one-sided blades made in Japan that are ideal for cutting fish. The brand is engraved on the side of the blade in Japanese lettering.
Royal Chef doesn’t only create Western knives, but also sell full tang ones sporting Japanese 420-grade stainless steel blades and wooden handles.
What Consumers Say
Taking a look at consumers’ reviews, these are a few of the opinions most often voiced by buyers:
Fillet knives: Some people find that a fillet knife cuts through sushi pretty well and are a little cheaper than the Japanese sashimi variety.
Blade length: Longer blades allow for a single stroke when slicing through a larger fish or piece of meat.
Lighter handles: The handle is slimmer and lighter with cheaper knives which may or may not be to the liking of the chef, but may suit lady chefs more.