The Tojiro Shirogami Yanagi 210mm knife belongs in the sashimi-bōchō group of knives, and is meant to prepare sashimi, sushi, slices of raw fish and seafood. The knife is also increasingly popular with western cooks for a multitude of tasks including roast carving. Its name 'yanagi' means 'willow blade' as this knife has long and pliant characteristics of a willow branch, and the most important principle in using a yanagi to prepare sashimi is not cutting down but pulling with its long blade in a single motion. Sashimi and sushi are ideally prepared so that sliced cross-sections of fish are as smooth as glass, shiny, and sharp. The Tojiro Yanagi is designed specifically for this purpose.
Important design points for it are as follows:
Length: the Tojiro Yanagi has a long blade to cut a fish block only in one direction, using a pull-cut motion. (Zigzag cutting creates a poor quality cross-sections).
Thickness: this Yanagi has a very thin blade, requiring very little force, reducing tearing and smashing of delicate proteins.
Hardness and Durability: this blade is made from Shirogami (White #2) steel which is durable and takes a very sharp edge. The Shirogami core (visible at the polished edge) is wrapped by a second layer of Shirogami cladding (the smooth satin finish closer to the spine of the blade).
Finish: The Shirogami cladding has a smooth satin finish on this blade, which glides through protein. The steel is also reactive, so extra care is needed to keep the blade dry lest rust set in. Being a reactive blade, the Tojiro Yanagi will develop a beautiful patina over time.
Single ground: The Tojiro Yanagi is blade is angled on one side only. This allows control in the blade angle for delicate cutting and allows for ease of sharpening. This yanagi is a right-handed version in which the blade is ground only on the right side (front face).
Cutting direction: While almost all western knives are used to push and cut, this traditional Japanese knife is used to pull and cut instead.
This is a great value carbon steel knife for those looking to develop their skills with sushi and sashimi prep, or just looking for a better protein slicer.
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