For us at Modern Cooking, a kitchen knife is the number one tool in the kitchen equipment arsenal and working with a beautifully handcrafted Japanese knife makes our time in the kitchen all the more enjoyable. The feel, the balance and that razor sharp edge make all the difference as we practice our brunoise, julienne and batonnet (chop stuff up).
Of course that razor sharp edge is the highest priority here and you can achieve that on any knife whether it’s a $30 Victorinox or a $400 Japanese artisan blade. So the question is why buy the expensive Japanese option over the cheaper alternatives?
The answer is both simple and complicated. Simply put its about metallurgy, you can get into some very complicated conversations if you raise this particular subject with a serious enthusiast. Essentially the steel can be hard (brittle) or soft (malleable) and typically a blacksmith will find the ultimate mid point. Hard (brittle) enough to remain sharp for a long time and soft (malleable) enough so as not to chip or easily get damaged. Most cheap knives are made of soft metals and this means that they can be sharpened without too much effort, but it also means they dull easily. Where as a good quality knife will be made of hard stuff and hold its edge for a longer period.
For us we are serious about our knives and take care of them, making sure to keep the blade sharp and so having a quality Japanese knife means that we do not have to sharpen our knives as regularly. Less time sharpening and more time chopping, which makes for a safer (sharp knives reduce the chance of accidents) and more enjoyable cooking experience.
If you are ready to take the next step and would like to read up a little on Japanese knives and knife care or you would like to improve your knife skills, two great books that we have in our collection are Japanese Kitchen Knives by Hiromitsu Nozaki and Knife Skills Illustrated by Peter Hertzmann.
We have added some links to Amazon for your convenience.
Also check out the Modern Cooking shop, it has some great moderately priced Japanese artisan knives, both in traditional Japanese and Western shapes.
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