Japanese knives – it’s all about the edge
The last 10 years has seen a huge influx in the demand for Japanese knives from chefs around the globe. While home cooks cite the look and feel of a Japanese knife as the big drawcard, professional chefs have come to realise that Japanese steel combined with the knife making prowess of the Japanese, produce a consistently superior blade – in terms of edge retention and sharpness.
Why better than European knives?
Japanese knives are made of a harder grade of steel – measured in terms of an HRC scale. The average European kitchen knife has an HRC rating of 52 – 56, whereas Japanese kitchen knives tend to have an HRC rating of 58-65. The hardness helps in keeping the knife from going blunt, which is why you’ll find that European knives tend to go blunt more quickly. Cheap ‘made in china’ or ‘made in brazil’ knives that you’ll find at your local department store or ’boutique’ kitchenware store, will hold an edge for the least amount of time.
So why are Japanese knives sharper?
There a number of reasons why Japanese knives are sharper. As the steel in Japanese knives is harder, the blade can retain a more acute edge (smaller angle) as well as more complex edge grinds that are optimised for sharpness. We will talk more about types of edges in a later article.
European knives generally have a bigger angle and a simple V bevel edge. European knives are also heavier and the weight of the knife helps in making the cut. In comparison Japanese knives are generally lighter and the sharpness of the blade provides effortless cutting that will have you slicing and dicing with glee.
It’s all about the edge. When you think about it, would you prefer to defend yourself with a medieval English sword or a samurai sword?