Cookbook Profile

Japanese Kitchen Knives

by Hiromitsu Nozaki


According to Chef Hiromitsu Nozaki, "The knife is truly the foundation of Japanese cuisine, and the act of cutting is fundamental."

Known for its exquisite design and high quality production, the Japanese kitchen knife is a tool like none other, and its popularity is on the rise in the United States. But many people simply don't have the skills to maximize their knives' full performance potential.

Internationally-renowned chef Hiromitsu Nozaki provides some insight into utilizing these superior utensils. In his new book, Japanese Kitchen Knives: Essential Techniques and Recipes written with Kate Klippensteen and with photographs by Yasuo Konishi, Nozaki shares his own expertise with easy-to-follow instructions and recipes. Using the proper knife can enhance the flavors of foods, according to Nozaki. "A tomato cut with a dull knife loses juice and umami (the fifth flavor that humans can taste, said to be savory or meaty) elements, and even when eaten immediately, the texture is limp," he says. "A slice of tomato cut with a sharp knife, however, will overwhelm you with its natural juiciness and umami."

In the book, Nozaki explains the techniques for using three of the most popular Japanese knives: the usuba (for cutting vegetables), the deba (for filleting) and the yanagiba (for skimming and slicing).

Each technique is accompanied by recipes that require its use, and all recipes are very simple, using ingredients familiar to western readers. Color photographs taken from the chef's perspective make it easier for the reader to follow along and understand Nozaki's careful instructions.

A glossary, buying and maintenance guides and detailed information on the production of Japanese kitchen knives complete the book.

Japanese Kitchen Knives is a must-have for the book shelf of any chef—professional and amateur alike!

About the Author

Known for his culinary skills and deep knowledge of food, Hiromitsu Nozaki catered for the Japanese athletes during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Nozaki was classically trained in several Japanese restaurants before becoming the executive chef of Tokuyama and Waketokuyama, which was awarded one star in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2008. He has published over forty cookbooks ranging from simple home cooking and baby food recipes to textbooks for apprentices, traditional Japanese recipes and new scientific approaches to Japanese cuisine.

Kate Klippensteen writes on food, film and travel as well as comparative culture for Japanese and U.S. publication. She is the author of Cool Tools: Cooking Utensils from the Japanese Kitchen. Klippensteen has lived in Tokyo since 1986.

Photographer Yasuo Konishi has journeyed to more than one hundred countries over his career for a wide number of publications, including Esquire Japan. His work has appeared in a number of food-related books published in Japan, including Cool Tools.


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This page created September 2009