Knives as beautiful as the food they make, sushi and sashimi knives are not found in every American kitchen as yet. If you like knives you’ll want to find a reason to own one. Many would make excellent carving or boning knives as well as being perfect for portioning raw seafood and slicing delicate strips of vegetables. Even if you don’t eat raw fish these are wonderful knives, built for a level of craftsmanship in food preparation that’s unusual in American cuisine. Sushi knives prepare food with attention to form and texture and color as well as flavor. Many of the details would be lost if the food were cooked.
The purpose of the sushi knife is fine control and accurate slicing — edges are so narrow and sharp that the food parts in translucent slices without distortion. Low quality knives give low quality results, so buying the best makes sense. That’s hard to remember when even the cheap import sushi knives look like they ought to be really good. I’ve been a tourist in Asia often enough to have acquired caution where bargains are concerned.
These knives come from a culture where food preparation is also a spectator sport. You don’t go to the best sushi restaurants just to eat; you go to see the chefs at work. Most of us won’t ever approach that level of skill, but we can aspire to it. Having the knives that make such things possible is certainly a justifiable pleasure.
It’s an entry-level sushi blade in a more ordinary stainless steel than the master-level blades, but the Bunmei Yanagi has the traditional single bevel blade design and performs well. Sharpens with ordinary stones and steels.
The Yoshikin Global Yanagi is at least close to the high end of the scale and comes in either left-hand or right-hand versions, with the single bevel ground on either side of the blade.
Here’s where sushi knife technology meets a new American need: the Wusthof Grand Prix II Salmon Slicer incorporates Japanese design features, creating a blade to slice our favorite American fish into exotically thin fillets.