Japanese vs. German Knives: Which One Is Right for Your Kitchen?

Japanese Gyuto Nakiri German Wusthof Knives

 Japanese vs German Knives: Which One Is Right for Your Kitchen?

As any home cook or professional chef knows, having the right knife for the job is essential in the kitchen. With so many factors to consider, choosing the right knife can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to the two heavyweights in the knife-making world: Japan and Germany. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Japanese vs German knives, their differences, and which one may be right for your kitchen.

Japanese knives are famous for their sharpness and delicacy, and they’re often considered works of art. These knives are crafted using high-carbon steel that is heated and folded multiple times, resulting in a hard and sharp blade that is a little more difficult to sharpen, but retains its edge longer. The manufacturing technique produces a thin and delicate blade that is perfect for precise cuts of fish, meat, or vegetables. Japanese knives are also known for their unique blade shapes that are designed for specific tasks. For example, the Gyuto knife, like the MITSUMOTO SAKARI 8″ Japanese Gyuto, is the Japanese version of a chef’s knife that combines the shape of a traditional Western chef’s knife with the lightweight design of a Japanese knife, while a Nakiri knife, like the Shun Cutlery Classic Nakiri Knife, is designed for precise vegetable cuts.

In terms of handle comfort, Japanese knives usually have a traditional wooden handle that’s lightweight and ergonomic, fitting comfortably into the hand. However, this type of handle may not be as durable as other materials and may require more maintenance. Japanese knives are often more expensive due to the complex manufacturing process and high-quality materials used in the manufacturing process.

On the other hand (or actually IN the other hand), German knives, like my favorite workhorse knife, the WÜSTHOF Classic IKON 8″ Chef’s Knife, are known for their durability and versatility and is easier to sharpen. These knives are made with softer stainless steel and have a thicker blade that’s good for more heavy-duty tasks like cutting through bones or tough meat.  Also, German knives often feature a wide, curved blade that allows for a rocking motion when cutting and slicing through meats or vegetables.

In terms of handle comfort, German knives often have a heavier handles made of durable materials like rubber or polymer for a comfortable and secure grip. While this type of handle may not be as traditional as a wooden handle, it’s more durable and requires less maintenance.

Which One Should You Choose?

When deciding between Japanese and German knives, it ultimately comes down to personal preference, cooking style and the type of food being prepared. Japanese knives are ideal for precise cuts and delicate tasks, while German knives are more versatile and can handle a wide range of tasks. It’s important to consider factors like blade sharpness, durability, weight and handle comfort before making a decision.

Despite having used German knives throughout my life, I have been gravitating towards buying and using Japanese knives more frequently these days, and the reason are:

  1. Sharpness: Japanese knives are known for their incredible sharpness due to the harder steel used in their construction. This allows for precise and clean cuts, especially when working with delicate ingredients like fish.
  2. Lightness: Japanese knives are generally lighter and thinner than German knives, which makes them easier to maneuver and control. This can be particularly beneficial when performing intricate tasks like chopping herbs or making small cuts.
  3. Precision: The blade shape of Japanese knives tends to be more slender and tapered than German knives, allowing for more precision and control when cutting. This can be especially useful when filleting fish or performing other detailed tasks.
  4. Versatility: While traditional Japanese knives are designed for specific tasks, such as the deba knife for fish or the nakiri knife for vegetables, many modern Japanese knives are designed to be versatile and can handle a variety of tasks.
  5. Aesthetics: Japanese knives attend to be more visually appealing than German knives, with intricate and beautiful designs and finishes.

That being said, both Japanese and German knives are highly regarded by professional chefs and home cooks alike for their unique features and exceptional quality. Despite their differences in manufacturing process and design, both types of knives share an appreciation for craftsmanship and attention to detail. Whether you choose a Japanese or German knife, investing in a quality knife that fits your needs will make all the difference in the kitchen.

No matter which style of knife you choose, it’s important to make sure it stays in great shape and selecting an appropriate wood cutting board is just as essential as selecting the right knife, as it will affect the lifespan of your knives, as well as your food preparation skills and safety. A cutting board plays a vital role in maintaining the sharpness of a knife blade. When you use a knife on a hard or rough surface, such as a countertop, glass, ceramic plate or even a plastic board, it will quickly become dull due to the friction and impact. However, a good wood cutting board provides a stable surface that absorbs the impact and reduces the friction between the knife blade and the surface, thus preserving its sharpness for longer. By using a suitable cutting board, you can prevent your knife from becoming dull quickly, reducing the need for frequent sharpening and prolonging its lifespan.

When all is said and done, opting for a sturdy German knife or an elegant Japanese knife and selecting an appropriate cutting board can significantly enhance your kitchen experience and make meal preparation an enjoyable task.

Homemade Valentine’s Day Gift of Chocolate Love…Easy, Fun and Very Cool Chocolate Goody Bags

chocolate bags

This is one of the all-time great Valentine’s Day homemade gifts (and it’s not really a recipe…more like a very impressive technique). Although it might look like it’s hard to prepare, it really isn’t…and it’s a lot of fun to make.

Easy, fun and really impressive…the trifecta in homemade gift preparation!

1. Grab a few bulk coffee-bean bags from your grocery store (they are by the bulk coffee..and they’re FREE!). You need bags that are lined with a plastic coating so after being painted with chocolate, you can peel them off easily. Cut the coffee bags so they are about 3-5 inches tall.

2. Then, in a double boiler over low heat, melt 2-3 cups of semisweet chocolate morsels.

3. Lay a bag on its side, and with a pastry brush, start at the bottom and paint the melted chocolate over the entire interior of the bag. Use plenty of chocolate to get a nice thick layer coating the inside of the bag, which will make it less likely for the chocolate to break when peeling off the bag later. Repeat with additional bags.

4. Stand the bags up and place in the refrigerator to harden for at least 30 minutes and…. Read More …

Sous Vide Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin with the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker

My new favorite cooking “toy” is my Anova Sous Vide machine…it’s the ultimate Really Cool Kitchen Tool.  Everything I’ve made so far (steak, chicken and pork) has come out perfectly every time with restaurant quality results…it’s kinda idiot-proof! All you do is just attach the machine to any pot, add water and click start, put whatever you want to cook in a sealable bag (any ziplock-type bag will do), remove the air, drop it in the water and set the timer!  You can also use the free wirelessly Bluetooth connected Anova Culinary app on your phone to find your recipe and cooking settings for exactly how you like it done, and just hit the “Start” button and the Anova goes to work.  Shown here is my Sous Vide pork tenderloin. I just marinated it in teriyaki for a few hours, placed it in the Sous Vide bath and after an hour at 136°, I removed it and seared it on all sides for 2 minutes in a screaming hot cast iron pan. It was tender, perfectly cooked from end-to-end and incredibly tasty. I know this sounds like a gushing paid-for review, but it’s really not…I just love it that much.









Tip of the Day – Vacuum Seal your Food for (practically) FREE!

If you want to keep your food ultra-fresh, an air-tight seal locks in freshness and helps protect food from spoiling, but you don’t have to invest a couple of hundred bucks on a vacuum sealer and a never-ending supply of expensive proprietary bags. All you need is a regular freezer/storage bag (about 8¢) and a straw (free at any fast food place) and you’re good-to-go. To paraphrase Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, “Just put your lips together and…suck!”

The free straws work really well, but I actually use these clear acrylic straws…they last forever, are washable and don’t collapse or bend while you’re using them…they’re great!

OXO Good Grips Grater…My New Favorite Really Cool Kitchen Tool

This is my new favorite Really Cool Kitchen Tool…the OXO Good Grips Box Grater has:

– Sharp, stainless steel blades for easy grating
– Medium and fine grating surfaces, and slicing surface
– Slim construction conveniently fits into drawers
– Soft, comfortable, non-slip grip

…but the BEST thing about it is that you can catch, measure and store whatever you’re preparing in the storage container that clips onto the bottom of the grater, and then seal the freshly cut/grated ingredients with the included lid. It’s perfect for grating and keeping the mozzarella fresh before adding it to my Caramelized Onions, Sausage and Mushroom Sourdough Pizza.

Where did that Cut of Beef come from and What the Hell do I do with it?

Mystified by the incredible assortment of beef cuts out there and what to do with each of them? Here is a great Cheat Sheet for Meat Treats by visually that literally breaks down the cow and gives you the name of each cut, where it comes from, an idea of how much it costs and the best method to cook it. Load this cheat sheet to your mobile phone and pull it up next time you’re shopping for meat.

Cuts of Beef




How to Keep Your Knives Sharp…for (practically) FREE!

Click on photo for a closer look

Now that you know the best way to sharpen your knives (see previous post for the  Accusharp Knife and Tool Sharpener)…here is the best and cheapest way to keep them sharp. Every time you put an unprotected knife in a drawer you run the risk of ruining the edge. It just takes a little bump to bend or roll the delicate edge of a sharp knife, and although honing with a good sharpening steel is something you should be doing, as it will straighten out the blade’s edge, it doesn’t actually sharpen the knife. Over time the knife will start to dull, until one beautiful summer day while you’re futilely attempting to slice a tomato for a BLT, the knife slips off the fruit (yes, the tomato is a fruit…look it up) and lops off your entire thumb (ok…that’s a little dramatic, but I’m trying to make a point here). Of course, you can buy knife guards, but it’s exceptionally easy to make them at home. All you do is take some cardboard (the thin kind from a gift box works best, but any cardboard will do), cut a long strip that’s the length of the knife’s blade and a little more then twice as wide as the blade, fold it in half length-wise to fit the knife, and just staple evenly down the open edge. Slip this on whenever you store your knives, and they’ll stay sharp no matter how much they rattle around in that overstuffed drawer.

Tip of the Day – Roll Your Bacon for Easy Separation

Cookhacker Bacon

Don’t you just hate it when you open a package of bacon and it’s hard to separate the strips? I admit, it’s not a problem as dire as global warming or the economy, but at least there’s any easy remedy for this annoying situation. Just roll the package of bacon into a tight cylinder shape before opening it, and the bacon strips will be easy to separate. And don’t forget to use the classic Cast Iron Bacon Press when cooking…it helps the bacon cook evenly and actually prevents it from curling up…it’s great for BLTs.

Tip of the Day – Save Your Parmesan Rinds

parmesan rindAfter you’ve grated your block of Parmesan right down to the hard rind, don’t you dare throw it out. Place it in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer. Next time you make stew, soup or spaghetti sauce, just toss in a big chunk of rind as it’s cooking, and that great intense, salty unique Parmesan flavor will infuse the sauce…just don’t forget to remove it before serving! If you do forget, please click here immediately. 🙂

The Most Important Tools in Your Kitchen – Your Knives

A sharp, well balanced knife that feels good in your hand is a pleasure to work with and makes cooking that much more enjoyable…when the right knife is used properly, it really makes you feel very “cheffy”. I’ve already posted how to sharpen knives and keep them sharp, and the amazing chart below (which I totally copied from Kitchen Kapers) really helps you figure out exactly what knife to use (or buy) for the job at hand.

There is need to go crazy buying knifes. I recommend starting out with a good quality 8″ chef’s knife (the workhorse and the most important tool in your kitchen, imho), a 3″ paring knife, 5″ Tomato/Utility Knife, a 10″ serrated bread knife and a honing (sharpening) steel. Just make sure you store them properly (I love my magnetic knife holder) and you should be ready to tackle any kitchen cutting job with ease.

Style of Knife Shape of Knife Ideal Job for Knife
2 3/4″ Peeling Knife For peeling of all round vegetables – potatoes, onions, etc.
3″, 4″ Paring Knifes For paring, peeling and slicing small fruits and vegetables.
5″ Tomato/Utility Knife (Serrated) For tomatoes, salami, croissants.
5 1/2″ Boning Knife For separating meat from bone, cooked and uncooked. The smaller the size of the meat (or bone) the more flexible the blade should be and vice versa.
5″, 6″ Utility Knives As the name indicates, for many, but not for all cutting jobs. Peeling, slicing, chopping, carving.
8″, 10″ Carving/Slicing Knives For carving medium sized roasts and fowl, cutting large vegetables, fruit.
6″, 8″, 10″ Chef’s Knives For chopping and dicing. The knife handle is rocked up and down with one hand while the fingers on the other hand rest slightly on the back of the blade, towards the tip.
8″ Bread Knife (Serrated) For cutting bread or any other food of soft substance with a tough skin or crust.
5″, 7″ Santoku Knives For slicing and chopping. Hollow edge allows air between blade and item being cut for extra thin cutting. Unique edge must be sharpened by professional.
Cleaver For chopping through joints or bones.
10″ Sharpening Steel For sharpening the knives. A sharp knife will provide maximum safety. Use the sharpening steel regularly, preferably every other time the knife is used.