Vices Collection: Japanese Chef's Knife

The tradition of Japanese blade making goes back more than 1,000 years, to the fabled samurai sword. Today, Japanese knives are known as the best in the world, with unparalleled craftsmanship and blades of extraordinary sharpness. The knife is the most important tool in a Japanese chef’s arsenal, and the best Japanese knives are works of art. We think that’s how you’ll feel about this very special knife, designed exclusively for the Vices Japanese Kitchen Edition. 

Japanese-style knives are typically more delicate than their European counterparts, which are designed to slice thicker cuts of meat and tougher root vegetables. But Japanese-style blades are sharper, allowing them to slice vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers paper-thin. They also make cleaner, smoother slices of sushi and sashimi that feel superior on the palate and won’t discolor the way more ragged cuts will. This knife can singlehandedly up your kitchen game by orders of magnitude — and you’re going to love using it.

This knife is made from “Damascus steel,” which is a core of softer steel surrounded by harder parent steel — in this case 66 microscopic layers’ worth — to give it flexibility as well as strength and precision. The hammered design of the blade may look attractive, but it’s actually there to reduce friction and prevent what you’re cutting from sticking to the knife. The handle, made from steel and pakkawood (a dense and durable wood composite made for cooking and kitchen use), is designed to align with the hand and reduce stress on the muscles and tendons during long bouts in the kitchen. The razor-sharp 2.2 mm blade is durable, rust and corrosion-proof, and easy to sharpen. Everything about this knife was designed with function in mind; the fact that it looks great is a bonus.

How to slice sushi-quality fish with a Japanese Chef's Knife 

First, make sure you’re getting sushi-grade fish that is being sold specifically for making sushi. That’s the most important part! If it’s intended for sushi, it will usually already have the skin removed and be cut into blocks. If the fish is frozen, thaw it adequately before use. If it’s fresh, put it in the refrigerator immediately and use it as soon as possible, certainly the same day you buy it.

Fish, like meat, has a “grain,” or sinew, that you can see. For very soft, tender fish like salmon, slice with the grain to keep the meat from falling apart. Otherwise, it’s best to slice across the grain, not along it. Hold the knife at an angle to the fish — how much of an angle depends on how thin or thick you want your sashimi. Experience will be your guide here. And this is important — always slice in one motion, towards you. Do not saw your fish! It will result in ragged nigiri that discolors easily and has a less pleasant mouthfeel.

If you’re making sushi rolls, you want longer, thinner strips of fish, 6-8 inches long; if you’re making nigiri sushi or sashimi, a slice about 3 inches in length should suffice. How thick you want it depends on the kind of fish, but we recommend about 1/2-3/4” for tender, meatier fish, and 1/4-1/2” for tougher, chewier examples. Too thin and the fish will fall apart; too thick simply won’t be appealing. It’s really a matter of taste and experimentation is encouraged! And with this knife, we guarantee the experiments will be sensational.