A Chef is nothing without his or her knife and this is especially true when it comes to Japanese cuisine. Hocho (ほうちょう) (包丁) are Japanese cooking knives and besides their pragmatic value when preparing food, these knives are much different from those in Western culture. Similar to swords, hocho are forged and sharpened using only one side of the blade. This makes for precise and accurate slicing.

Gyuto - used for filleting and preparing meat and fish.
Gyuto – used for filleting and preparing meat and fish.

Four different characteristics of hocho include the handle, the blade, the steel, and the construction. The handles of these knives are usually made of wood and are extremely light. The blades are traditionally forged into layers of steel for strength and sharpness. Depending on what type of steel the blade is made from, the maintenance of the knife changes. The blades can be created by forging or stamping steel.

Ajikiri - for small fish or vegetables.
Ajikiri – for small fish or vegetables.

Japanese chef knives must be sharpened using different whetstones and contrary to Western kitchen knives, they cannot use a honing steel. The three main types of hocho are sashimi bōchō, deba bōchō (for fish not prepared as sashimi), and usuba bōchō (for vegetables). It is not uncommon for Japanese knife shops to sell over fifty different kinds of knives -different knives for different tasks.

Sashimi - a thin blade for cutting and filleting fish.
Sashimi – a thin blade for cutting and filleting fish.

9 thoughts on “A Japanese Chef’s Knife

  1. […] as it requires heavy knife skills and experience with the care and sharpening of special knives. These skills are especially put on display during ikuzukuri, when a fish is sliced while it is […]

  2. […] it’s already been established that a Japanese chef is nothing without a good knife, the techniques behind the tool are endless. While Western cooking often requires the chop, dice, […]

  3. […] both professional chefs and serious home cooks, owning sharp, well-maintained knives is very important. Not only can you work faster and more efficiently with a sharp knife, it’s […]

  4. Japanese chef knife is world famous. It is very shiny and easy to use. I think this one will be a perfect choose and flexible versatile knife in the kitchen.

  5. Very informative. Got all the details required to know about Japanese Chef’s Knife. Thanks

  6. This are some good quality chef knife you have reviewed. Which one you recommend?

    1. sundaysgrocery

      We love our Japanese kitchen knives from Kama Asa.

  7. Good Article, as well as the information you have provided, is useful.

  8. Nice article sundaysgrocery.
    A good quality knife is very important for cooking. With a good knife an amateur can cut like a pro sometimes. i couldn’t fillet my fishes till i bought a good fillet knife myself. Now i fillet fish like a pro.

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