Buying Guide to Japanese Knives

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7 Things to Know Before You Buy

You've always been thought of as a bit of a kitchen whiz. So it's only natural that you'd consider stepping up your game "Top Chef" style with a set of Japanese Knives. Although they're favored by kitchen masters around the world, this tool can be a major investment. Before you take the plunge, check out these seven must know facts.

Fact #1: Japanese Knives have history.

A derivative of the samurai sword, these high-performance kitchen tools are crafted with techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. These aren't just any old Knives -- they're meant to be used with precision and respect.

Fun fact: The shift from sword making to knife production happened in the 1850s when several Japanese ports were opened for Western trade.

Fact #2: The sharp single-edged blade helps retain flavor.

Sounds impossible, right? But, yes, it has been proven that this style of blade (unique to Japanese Knives) gives a cleaner cut, which means you get a more flavorful bite.

Fact #3: There are two classes of Japanese Knives: Honyaki and Kasumi.

The difference between the two lies in the production and expense. Honyaki Knives are crafted entirely from one material (steel) which gives them greater edge retention. However, this also makes them more expensive, as well as more prone to chipping or breaking if used the wrong way.

On the flip side, Kasumi Knives are easier to use and less expensive, but they don't retain their edge as effectively.

So which one is right for you? Generally, Honyaki Knives are recommended for highly skilled professionals, while Kasumi Knives are a better fit for beginners.

Fact #4: Not all blades are alike.

To effectively chop, cut, dice and pare, you'll need more than one type of blade. Narrow blades are great for cutting meat and should be used for paring and peeling. Wide or broad blades should be used to cut fruit and vegetables and are built for high speed chopping.

Fact #5: High carbon steel is less maintenance.

A higher carbon content not only makes the knife's edge last longer, but means it will be easier to sharpen. In fact, high carbon steel requires a re-sharpening after 5-6 months of initial use, while stainless steel loses its edge after only 2-3 months.

Fact #6: The knife needs to feel good in your hand.

This is one item you don't want to buy on looks alone. Your proficiency with your new kitchen tool depends on how comfortable you feel holding it. Look for Knives with a slip resistant handle -- this extra makes it that much easier to get a grip.

Fact #7: Not all Knives are rust and corrosion resistant.

Snag a set with these two qualities and they're more likely to last for the long haul (they can stand up longer to kitchen messes).