When we talk about Japanese chef knives, which one do you know best? It's never easy finding a great chef knife for your kitchen especially when you consider that you don't have to stick with traditional Western varieties. Instead, you could get more benefit from purchasing a Gyuto knife, or, a Japanese chef knife, that can be used for all of the same food preparation.
What is a “Gyuto” Knife?
Put simply, a Gyuto knife is the Japanese version of a traditional chef knife. While Japanese blacksmiths have long been known for the quality of their swords and more precise kitchen knives, they eventually had to develop a chef knife equivalent in order to adequately serve the Western markets in the course of advancing globalization. The Gyuto knife is the result of this development.
The word “Gyuto” means "cow blade" and is the answer of the Japanese knife makers to the Western chef knife. The Gyuto is an all-purpose knife that most chefs and home cooks couldn't do without. They are generally high on the heel, have a flat belly, and curve towards the tip of the knife. The Gyuto can be used for almost anything, from butchering certain fish to brunoise vegetables to cutting a cake. Any good chef will tell you to invest in a good quality Gyuto/chef knife first and then build the rest of your knife set around it.
The Gyuto with its double beveled blade is a competent all rounder and is very popular with professional and household chefs in Japan, for a variety of different uses.
How Do You Use A Gyuto?
Just like a Western-style chef's knife, it is ideal for many different food cutting and prep tasks and can be used in a number of different ways.
“Rocking style” chopping: Start the cut with a firm grip on the handle with the tip of the blade, and without lifting the knife from the board, touch the blade with the board all the way down to the heel and slide the blade forward as you are cutting. Repeat this movement by lifting the heel of the blade in the air and rocking back and forth along the length of the blade.
Pull-Cut: Start with the heel of the blade on the back of your food, touch the blade with the board from heel to tip, and cut through your food. Great technique for proteins and to get a smooth even cut. If you watch a chef cut sashimi at your local sushi bar this is how they will cut the fish.
Butt cutting: Push the blade parallel to the cutting board and away from the cutting board by pushing the flatter portion of the blade down and forward toward the heel at a 45-degree angle. Once you've pushed through the food and made contact with the board, pull it up and back in the same direction and repeat the process.
The agile and small tip area is ideal for piercing tough meat and for fine cuts.
The blade length varies depending on the intended use. A shorter Gyuto knife is more maneuverable, but long blades offer more blade surface for larger pieces of meat or vegetables.
Differences Between a Gyuto and Western Style Knife
As you now know the Gyuto chef knife is the Japanese version of a Western-style chef knife. The blade differs in several ways, which gives it different cutting properties than the Western version. Gyuto blades have a flatter profile that is more suitable for chopping and cutting. The Western version has a more curved profile that is great for rocking movement style cut. Like the chef knife, the Gyuto does have a curvature in the blade that is less extreme, so the Gyuto can also be used in rocking chop style. Japanese Gyutos also have a thinner blade. Unlike the Western chef's knife, the Gyuto is not ideally suited for cutting through pieces of real tough meats or hard foods like raw pumpkin. However, this does mean that these Japanese chef knives are typically sharper and lighter than the Western chef knives.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How does a Gyuto differ from a chef knife?
A Gyuto knife is typically shorter and thinner than a chef knife. The lower weight of the blade ensures greater maneuverability and speed when cutting.
- What is a Gyuto knife used for?
Although originally designed for slicing beef, this knife is great for chopping, dicing, and many other kitchen tasks. It is considered by many to be a good utility knife. However, the more difficult heavy duty tasks like cutting pumpkin and harder foods are best done with a knife that has a thicker blade.
- Which size is best?
The blade length can vary from 8 to 12 inches, but the size that will suit most users and tasks is 8 inches or 20cm and most will be this size.
- Why buy a Gyuto?
Some Gyuto knives are made from Damascus steel which is an exceptionally hard steel and so they are stronger than most knives and do not need to be sharpened as much as stainless steel kitchen knives due to the VG10 or AUS-8 “super steel” core..
Rich in culture and history, the Gyuto knife would be a great addition to any kitchen if you are interested in improving your home cooking. We consider it to be a great first knife in your collection as it can handle almost any task. When you work out its limitations you can buy more specialised knives to compliment your arsenal.