Sushi has had an interesting journey - from artistic Japanese expression to something so prevalent not only in Michelin-star restaurants, but also food art and food culture across the world. Today, any 20-something year old can appreciate the subtleties that go into making this premium delicacy, thanks in part to “Sushi artists” across major social media platforms.
However, if you’re a true Sushi connoisseur, you know that everything comes down to how it's cut. Knife etiquette is all about precision and finesse, a craft that takes a Sushi Chef at least 5 years to master. The right cutting techniques, shapes, and visuals, all contribute to the taste and texture. We put together this list of basic knife know-hows so you can start working towards your Itamae dreams: Becoming a Sushi Chef!
1.Stay sharp and organized:
Sharpened knives are the foundation for preserving all the flavors in Sushi, since there are so many fresh ingredients. A dull knife can alter the taste of food at the cellular level, which is why ace Japanese chefs religiously sharpen their knives to a razor’s edge every day. Sharp knives are much safer too, as blunt knives slip on food. Assuming you are adept to do this yourself, here are some sharpening tools to choose from: https://premiumchefknives.com/collections/all-sharpening. Always stay organized and keep your tools clean.
2. Sashimi Rollin’
Use a conventional Sashimi knife like the Messerermeister Yanagiba to cut fish slices and rolls with absolute precision. The “pulling away” action is more important to master than using power to push this knife through. It has a longer blade than handle, and has the sharpest edge due to carbon steel. This knife requires more attention when cleaning, drying, and storing since it rusts easily.
3. Cut to the chase, get to the bones:
A traditional Deba knife resembles a cleaver, and should be used to cut through bones, and cut off any extra fillet from the cartilage. As you may have guessed, it is built for hard, heavy duty movements.
4. Cutting edge slicing, dicing, chopping:
If you’re a home cook, you would use a Nakiri knife like The The Chroma Haiku Kurouchi 6.75” and if you’re a professional chef, the Usuba may sound more familiar. Both serve the same purpose: to use on make clean, rhythmic cuts (or peels) on vegetables and herbs without crushing them too much. The flat, rectangular shape makes it easy to scoop lots of food at once, and also the safest knife to use.
5. The All-Star knife:
We chose to list the Santoku style at the end, because the word translates to “three uses”, therefore making it a well-rounded knife. Although not suited for slicing fish due to its short blade length, it is ideal for chopping and cutting fruits and vegetables. The Santoku is also lightweight and easy to handle, and is perfect for an amateur chef!