I know, you thought wasabi was the name for that green stuff on the side of a serving of sushi. Those cute little florettes you sometimes see that seem harmless enough until you mistakenly put it in your mouth to clean out your sinuses. Guess what? Wasabi is also the name given to a set of knives that are manufactured by the Kershaw-Shun company.
If you have ever looked into owning a set of authentic Japanese knives the the Shun Wasabi line is definetly a place to start. Designed primarily for home use this set is a great starter set to introduce you to the tremendous capabilities of Japanese cutlery. The three knife set includes the three classic types of Japanese kitchen knives with a Deba, a Nakiri and a Yanagiba. Okay, now that I have thoroughly confused you, let me explain.
First of all the blades on these knives are only 6 inches long so if you are intimidated by a longer blade these knives will not be a challenge to use. Secondly the actual styles are truly authentic to the knives used by Japanese trained chefs. The blunt tipped Nakiri shown above is designed for use with vegetables. Whether you are chopping carrots or want to try your hand at “sheet-peeling” that same carrot; this knife will do both with ease. This knife is beveled on both sides so it can be used if you are left handed.
The yanagiba is the Japanese equivalent of a traditional slicing knife, with one major difference. This slicer is single beveled and thus sharpened to a razor like edge. This knife will take care of anything you need to slice from a traditional turkey to a delicate sushi roll. Peeling the skin from fruit or fileting the skin from a small fish, this knife will do it all. Notice the gap between the heel of the blade and the actual beginning of the handle, this gives the user the ability to control the blade and turn quickly to follow the contour of the product you are slicing.
The third knife in this set is the Japanese style Deba. This is equivalent to the traditional “french knife” used in western culture. This is the knife you would use for slicing raw chicken and beef it is strong enough to go easily through most fish and small poultry bones. The single bevel insures a very sharp blade which will be easy to manipulate whether you are dicing vegetables or portioning a side of salmon.
The really exciting part of this is the fact that these blades are priced at less than $100 for the set of three which makes it a tremendous bargain. These knives are stamped rather than forged but the high carbon stainless is the same quality steel you would find in some of the Shun designer lines. The handles are made of powdered bamboo in polypropylene, they come in black or blond. The blades are “brush” finished which gives a nice satin-like shine to the set.
This is an excellent set of knives to start your kitchen collection or to add if you are expanding your current set. By the way did you know that Wasabi means harmony and tranquility. Each knife has the Japanese and English engraved on the side of the blade. You can view this set at the Chefs Catalog. These knives are also sold separately and there are also a santoku and longer yanagiba slicer available in the Wasabi line.