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Culinary infidelity with a Japanese Chef

After many years of domestic bliss, I’ve just been seduced by a good-looking bit of rough. I’m in love with a Johnny-come-lately. The object of my desires feels great too but I’m a little bit guilty about it. Here’s what happened.

I first spotted the Japanese Chef in Allders. There it was hanging up beside all the other Cooks & Co knives, its gleaming broad eight-inch blade inviting me to take a closer look. Who could resist?

I already have a good set of Sabatier knives – expensive, dependable, and perhaps rather dull. I’ve been tempted before to have the odd dalliance. My filleting knife, for example, would make Rambo look good, with its flexible retractable blade. The attraction paled a little after I almost lost a couple of fingers, but I’ve learned a bit more respect now and we get along fine. The trust has been lost forever though. And so, Sabatier has never really had any serious rivals for my affections. Until now.

Let me tell you more about the Japanese Chef. It may have an exotic name, but this is not your ultra-sophisticated, genuinely Japanese, Global knife. (You’d think that since you’re not paying for anything in the middle, them being hollow, that they might not be so frighteningly expensive.) No, the Japanese Chef, comparatively speaking, is built like a brickie’s labourer. This is a very heavy knife. The Sabatier 8-inch chef’s knife weighs 175g, the Japanese Chef is almost 100g heavier.

Holding it in the shop, waving it about, getting a good feel for it, I could see the shop staff looking nervously over. The Chef’s glory was still sheathed in its protective cardboard casing and I longed to rip it off and run my thumb against the sharp edge. I didn’t dare to. I thought of my already large collection of knives at home and told myself there was no way I could justify the expense of yet another. Such a beast would be too expensive. Much too expensive. It was a beauty.

Glad to have solved the problem, I investigated further, looking for the price tag. £20!!! Surely it couldn’t be any good at that price. But it was too late. I couldn’t help myself. I bought it. And barely noticed the shop staff clutching each other in relief as I gleefully danced out of Allders.

I couldn’t wait to unsheath it, but thought the other passengers might not like it if I started fondling such a glorious chopper on the bus. I controlled myself until I got home. The rest, as they say, is history.

I have committed culinary infidelity. The Sabatiers hang on the knife rack untouched while I favour the Japanese Chef. It cuts through the crunchiest carrots like the proverbial hot blade through congealed bovine mammary secretion (sorry, didn’t want to use a cliché and I couldn’t think of another word for “butter”).

So what’s so great about it? Well, a Japanese chef’s knife is a different shape from the traditional western cook’s or chef’s knife. Think aeroplane wing-shaped rather than the long thin triangular shape used in the western world. It’s a heavier duty instrument for chopping. I believe the extra weight, coupled with good sharpness, gives it more power. The Japanese Chef also looks good with a shiny chrome tip on its handle. Even if it was never used, it could be an attractive ornament on any kitchen knife rack.

But the real beauty of it is how it cuts, and how it feels when it cuts. Even my husband had a go with it and said that it was so smooth you’d almost think it had liquid inside it. When in full flow of the rocking action used in cutting, I found it to be poetry in motion. (Only amateurs make that woodpeckerish rat-a-tat racket when they cut.)

Oh wow, this is the best knife I’ve found in years and all for £20 too. I feel guilty for neglecting my old friends the Sabatiers, but the Japanese Chef is eight inches of pure pleasure.

Buy one today! (Note to self: try to find a way of flogging them on here.)

PS If anyone got the impression I’m a knife-wielding nutcase, I’m not. I think you’ll find that most chefs are passionate about their knives.

This article has been republished on our sister site Not Delia. There’s lots more on there for the foodie too, including various articles about types of knives and their uses.

3 Responses to “Culinary infidelity with a Japanese Chef”

  1. Joe Dorrian

    Hi Kay,
    I thought the vernacular delivery was familiar, as I was perusing the culinary dynamics of the “Not Delia” Website.

    I to was an Expat for 20 years, until an accident brought me back to the UK.
    Small world.


  2. Kay McMahon

    Hi Joe

    Sorry to hear about your accident. How long ago was that? Are you mobile now? (Assuming you were immobile for a while.)

    Kind regards


  3. Online Invoices

    An excellent kitchen knife is one of life’s small pleasures. I’m a keen cook, and received a proper Japanese knife as a present a while ago, and it ALWAYS comes out the block first, ahead of my Global knives, as using it is a pleasure.

    It’s true, that the blunter knives are more likely to cut you, with a decent sharp knife you need to use much less force to cut, so therefore less likely to slip with excessive pressure!

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