The Sujihiki Knife
The Sujihiki Knife
Acquiring a Sujihiki knife is about as close as we can get to put a sword in the kitchen. The Sujihiki is the evolution of the Yanagiba making it more accessible by morphing the Yanagiba into a double beveled slicing tool.
This long, sharp slicing blade that is the final note on a masterpiece dish as single slash slicing ensures that ingredients are not crushed or slashed. A beautiful Japanese book refers to the Sujihiki as the violin bow that, much like an orchestra, it can deliver the final note.
When starting to consider whether a Sujihiki knife is for you we commence by looking at the specifications.
Specifications of the Sujihiki Knife
A Sujihiki or Yanagiba blade is anywhere from 24cm up to 36cm going up in 30cm increments. The blade itself is slim to allow slicing to occur in a single movement. The Sujihiki above has a K-tip (basically because we love the k-tip) however it is also commonly made with a standard tip.
This Sujihiki also has a very slight curvature on the blade throughout the knife belly as this allows for a subtle roll which some chefs enjoy. The K-tip with a sharpened end also allows for precise work to be done when the finishing flag approaches on your dish.
As mentioned above the Sujihiki here is double-sided on the blade in contrast to the Yanagiba which has a single bevel.
Should I buy a Sujihiki knife?
Much like the Deba or Nakiri knife you probably do not need a Sujihiki. The Sujihiki knife is oversized, uncommon and sticks out on your kitchen wall. That said it's the knife that allows you to finish fish, chicken or carving with a single slice allowing you the most elegant way to make sashimi or slice a turkey at Christmas.
The Sujihiki Knife Anatomy
The Sujihiki knife is a carving knife. Like a violin bow the sujihiki is really the tool used to apply the finishing touches to a masterpiece on a plate. Like many specialized knives, if you are well stocked with general purpose knives you do not need a Sujihiki knife. However, if you care a lot about how you deliver a meal, how it looks, and the purity of your finishing cuts you may struggle without the sujihiki once you have played with it.
The length of the blade allows you to slice through fish, poultry or even a tomato in a single stroke which minimizes the disturbance on the surface of the flesh. When we cut back and forth with a shorter or blunter knife we are basically crushing the ingredient which ruins the surface, forces the fish, chicken or tomato to lose fluid. The single slice of the Sujihiki is the ultimate clean finish.
Beyond the beauty and functionality of the blade we added it to our collection largely because of the presentation. When dinner is a special occasion like Christmas, Thanks Giving or even a special lamb roast for a birthday the final stroke delivered by the stunning Sujihiki knife is the perfect way to move from creating to consuming on a special day.
The Sujihiki Knife Handle
1. The Handle / E
Given this is a half tang handle or a "wa" handle it is light in weight relative to the blade. This helps move the balancing point further down the blade making the pinching grip the grip to use to give the wielder complete control of the knife.
2. The Handle Butt / Ejiri
The butt of the handle is often used to tap in the half tang into the blade. As a result a 45 degree angle at the butt of the knife is relatively uncommon. We have chosen an angled base both for the light weight and intricacy of the handle as well as the simple reason - it looks magnificent on the wall or in the hand.
3. The Handle Steel Section / Tang
The tang section of traditional Japanese knife is contained with thin the handle - not sticking in between the two handle pieces as seen on a full tang. This type of handle allows us to use a single piece of unique fused wood or burl. Once again there is a utility perspective - lighter weight, however much of it is created for beauty - a single piece of treasured wood.
4. Collar / Kakumaki
You will notice the collar on the photographed knife tapers toward the blade. Again this is relatively uncommon - as it takes a little longer to make. The tapering is the favoured shape for both Shannon and I as it makes it a little more comfortable for our pinch hold to glide up and down the blade as we undertake different cuts. It also looks lovely so if you are walking to the table with an oversized turkey your are about to slice it is the perfect tool to finish your outfit.
The Sujihiki Knife Blade
5. Heel / Ago
The heel of the Sujihiki is where most slices begin so it is sharp and slim to allow you to get off to the right start.
6. Spine / Muni
The entire blade is consistent in it's width to allow for smooth long slices which allow you to complete the most pure, beautiful cuts to anything from fish, poultry or softer fruits and vegetables like tomato. This knife is not made for cutting through bones.
7. Belly / Tsura
The belly is relatively even throughout the blade. We've added a very subtle curve to the blade to allow you to care the knife tip as you gently raise the blade in the final moments of your slice.
8. Tip / Kissaki
Our tip has both the point and the edge at the edge of blade allow you to make very sharp slices to finish your dish.
9. Edge / Hassaki
As we approach the tip the Sujihiki knife you will notice a gentle upward curve and then a "k-tip" that give you a toll that specializes in intricate cuts and slices.
10. Cutting Edge / Kireha
The cutting edge, being the part of the blade after the heel, we have a straight, slim and consistent edge which is important when running a long slice to complete a meal..
More Sujihiki Knife components to consider....
11. Double Bevel blade
Some would describe the Sujihiki as the double beveled yanagiba. If you're not used to the single bevel approach this is the best slicing knife to add to your kit.
Given the 26cm blade length this is a very light knife. As with almost all Japanese knives this lighter weight makes it the work a little easier. Depending on the size of the bird and Christmas or thanks giving this can be very helpful.
Lastly, what leads you to the Sujihiki...
If you really care about the look of your dish and the preservation of key ingredients by slicing rather than crunching the sujihiki knife is a wonderful instrument to add to your kitchen.