Not everyone has the time to learn how to use a traditional Japanese knife.
After all, they can differ in many aspects, and some are even made specifically for a single purpose.
This is different from western-style knives, which you can use for a wide variety of cutting tasks.
The Yanagiba is a traditional Japanese knife, but it takes time to properly use it.
Interestingly, this knife has a westernized counterpart known as the Sujihiki knife.
So, what is a Sujihiki knife, and what are its uses?
What Is a Sujihiki Knife?
A Sujihiki knife is a western-style Japanese knife used for cutting and slicing boneless meats.
Unlike other Japanese knives, it features a double-bevel slicing, and it is long and narrow.
Its short height allows the user to slice through fish and other meat with as little friction as possible.
With its design, you can cut paper-thin slices of meat with just a single stroke, and it will not damage the meat at all.
You won’t have to make the sawing motion when slicing meat, too.
Doing so damages or tears the surface, which is not a good thing when it comes to sushi and sashimi.
Some chefs consider the Sujihiki knife as the western counterpart of the Yanagiba, a traditional Japanese knife for preparing sashimi and sushi.
Characteristics of a Sujihiki Knife
If you’re a regular home cook and you’re planning to buy a Sujihiki knife, know that it is meant solely for cutting boneless proteins.
Although it would work well in cutting other food items, the blade might dull faster than you can imagine.
Once you’re sure you want a Sujihiki knife, here are the different characteristics that you should know about.
The Sujihiki is considered a long knife with a narrow blade, often measuring 210m to 360mm long.
You can choose the length of the blade depending on your preference.
The most common choices are 240mm, 270, and 300m.
The shortest blades are very easy to use. It would be harder to control when the length of the blade increases.
Sujihiki knives are very flexible, which is why many cooks prefer using them.
Some models have thicker spine width, while others have laser-thin width. The choice would depend on your personal preference.
Some chefs prefer the laser-thin width as it is more flexible.
Thicker and heavier Sujihiki knives can give you better control.
Hence, if you’re still a beginner and want to learn how to use it properly, getting a thicker spine width will do the trick.
The most common spine width if you want to look for the best Sujihiki knife is 2.0mm.
However, you can opt for a 3.0mm thickness if you want since it is still acceptable.
Anything beyond that will damage the meat you are trying to slice.
What to Look for in a Sujihiki Knife
If you’re ready to buy your very own Sujihiki knife, there are a few essential things that you should know.
Here are some tips you can follow when searching for a good Sujihiki knife:
There are two types of steel often used to create the blade of a Sujihiki knife: stainless and carbon steel.
They both have advantages and disadvantages, so let’s have a closer look at these two materials.
For stainless steel, you can opt for the VG10 and VG-MAX material.
The VG10 is the gold standard when it comes to alloys with high carbon content and hardness of 58 to 2 HRC.
It is the hardest metal among the stainless alloys, and it offers good cutting abilities to the knife.
As for the VG-MAX, it can be hardened up to 61 to 62 HRC.
The Super Blue Steel is actually one of the best choices for knives.
With carbon levels of 1.3 percent along with tungsten, molybdenum, and vanadium, it can provide a hardness of 64 to 65 HRC.
It is different from stainless steel because it requires regular maintenance if you want to keep it in tip-top condition for a long time.
You also need to choose between two types of handles: WA and YO.
WA handles would be the traditional choice because most knives from Japan use this type of handle.
They are made from strips or stacks of wood, like shitan, pakkawood, magnolia, and ebony, and usually have a round, octagonal, or D shape.
As for the YO handles, they are known as westernized versions made from molded thermoplastic or wood.
This type of handle is made for comfort and convenience.
It means that the designs adapt to the grip of the user instead of the other way around.
You’re making a mistake if you think that the finish only adds to the aesthetics of your Sujihiki knife.
On the contrary, it is one of the deciding factors when looking for a Sujihiki knife.
The finish helps provide better blade strength, durability, and functionality.
Since you’re going to buy one, you need to make sure you choose the best available.
This type of finish gives off a rustic charm paired with its non-stick properties.
It is particularly preferred for its exceptional rust-fighting capabilities.
By forge-welding two steel grades together, it will reveal flowing patterns on the finished product.
This type of design provides strength and stability to the blade.
This finish provides a handcrafted appeal to the blade.
How so? This is because of the fact that it retains the scaly character achieved from the forging process.
A blade with such a finish can help prevent any negative reaction from carbon knives.
Knowing what is a Sujihiki knife and how to find the best one will be the start of a new experience for you.
With the knowledge of the best ways to use it, you can instantly improve your skills in the kitchen.
And this is especially true when it comes to making sashimi.
Follow all the simple tips we provided, and you will surely find the best Sujihiki knife that you can use for all types of protein slicing tasks.