Cooking the Books

Cooking the Books

Metropolis rounds up the latest culinary-themed titles to hit stores in Japan


Originally published on on July 2009

Japanese Kitchen Knives

by Hiromitsu Nozaki with Kate Klippensteen
(Kodansha International, 2009, 160pp, ¥3,150)

801-DS-Japanese-Kitchen-KnivesHiromitsu Nozaki’s Japanese-language cookbooks are rich with classic recipes and techniques. The renowned chef’s first book in English does not disappoint. This handsome work clearly demonstrates why Japanese knives are revered around the world.

Nozaki actually starts off not with knives, but with the proper cutting posture and stance, and even at what angle to face the cutting board. We tried this at home and quickly realized what a revelation this small change made in the kitchen.

While there are many varieties of Japanese knives, Nozaki focuses on the three that most chefs work with daily: usuba (for cutting vegetables), deba (filleting fish), and yanagiba (sashimi). Photos and clear directions guide readers through each step of working with these tools. Classic cutting techniques include katsuramuki for paper-thin rolls of daikon; sasagaki for thin vegetable slivers; and sanmai oroshi for filleting fish. The tutorials on cutting sashimi are worth the price of the book alone, and simple, delicious recipes let you practice your newly acquired skills. Essential information on caring for and sharpening your knives round out this book, which is certain to become a reference you’ll go back to many times.