As is the case with many Asian countries, the traditions of Japan have also gifted the world with precious objects that remain acclaimed over the centuries. Thus, in terms of cooking, Japanese chef's knives are known for their cutting precision and for their versatility, thanks to the multiple variants in which they exist. Whether they are called Yanagiba, Gyuto, Santoku or Kiritsuke, the latter being the one we are interested in in this article, Japanese kitchen knives easily find a place in the cupboards of French and Italian starred chefs, etc. What art gave birth to the Kiritsuke, this kitchen accessory so efficient and close to a work of art?
Japanese Kiritsuke knives: for cooking with precision
The Kiritsuke is a variation of a Japanese chef's knife, used in particular to cut vegetables. Featuring a hard and remarkably sharp blade, this kitchen knife is prized for its ability to deliver clean cuts to ingredients. In Japanese culture, the neatness of the cut, and therefore the beauty of the ingredients served in the dish, testifies, among other things, to the respect and consideration that one grants to one's hosts. Thus, like the Nakiri or the Honesuki, the Kiritsuke is one of the knives considered to be the knives of great chefs in Japan . As proof, it is one of the accessories used by the cooks of the Japanese emperors.
The Kiritsuke can be likened to a combination of two other Japanese knives, the yanagiba (used to cut raw fish) and the usuba (used to cut hard vegetables). From the first he holds the profile, and from the second he holds the blade. Today generally designed in wrought Damascus steel (modern version of Damascus wootz steel) or tempered carbon steel , a guarantee of both hardness and elegance, it has a slanted point which facilitates its handling and adds to its effectiveness. With a length varying between 15 and 24 cm, the Japanese Kiritsuke chef's knife is versatile. Mainly used to make fruit carving (artistic cutting to give an aesthetic shape), it is also used to simply cut vegetables and fruits, to mince animal products such as fish or meat , or to prepare meat in it. tearing to pieces.
History of Kiritsuke: from katana to knife, from the art of war to the art of cooking
The origin of Japanese kitchen knives, including that of the Kiritsuke, is closely linked to the history of the samurai, legendary Japanese warriors who armed themselves with katanas. Between the 13th and 19th centuries, Japanese swords were perfected over time with the goal of becoming sharper, in order to cut better . In this sense, Japanese blacksmiths have refined their art of working steel, gradually transforming their creations into increasingly slender sabers or katanas, with an almost unrivaled edge.
But in the Meiji era, when came the modernization triggered by the Meiji restoration, the Haitorei edict prohibited from 1876 the carrying of a katana. Demand then logically drops, but the art of transforming Japanese Damascus-type steel is not disappearing, it is reinventing itself . The blacksmiths of the time then converted to kitchen knives like the Kiritsuke, since in times of peace, we live better and we eat better!
The long and flat V blades, perfectly sharpened, or the curved tip, then go from katanas to Japanese kitchen knives . And since they are the result of historical techniques, proven over the centuries, these kitchen utensils are not long in gaining popularity, and becoming accessories for chefs.
Finally, the success of Japanese chef's knives Kiritsuke is also linked to the fact that they greatly serve a belief rooted in Japan: the flavor of a meal begins with the pleasant sight it offers .