Kitchenware, no matter how high-end, won’t make you a better chef—but it certainly can’t hurt. Especially when the menu calls for something like sashimi, a dish where presentation is just as important as taste.
Since sashimi, like sushi, is served raw, its presentation and preparation is more important than almost any other dish you’ll make. You’ll also want to use a long, thin, ultra-sharp knife called a yanagi to prepare it, just as you would when making sushi. But while the knife you use to prepare sushi has multiple purposes—cutting fish, vegetables and the completed roll itself—the blade you use to prepare sashimi has one use and one use only: cutting thin, delectable slices of fish.
While having a knife for just one purpose may first strike you as strange, it will all become clear once you see how the right tools can elevate your sashimi game. Here are four options to think about.
1. Cangshan J Series Sashimi Knife
Cangshan’s sashimi knife may look beautiful, but its 10-inch blade is its most impressive feature. Forged from Japanese VG-10 Damascus high-carbon steel, the hand-crafted blade undergoes multiple stages of ULTRA6 heat treatment before being ice-hardened in order to ensure long-lasting sharpness. This will guarantee that each slice is one swift, low-pressure cut (and while you’ll primarily use it for fish, the brand says it also works on soft meats). Of course, aesthetics are important, too, and this knife’s design is top notch, thanks to a unique African blackwood handle and dark walnut Saya-style sheath.
Pros: A gorgeous knife with a blade that’s just as noteworthy.
Cons: At 1.4 pounds, it’s far from the lightest sashimi knife.
2. Seto Damascus-Forged Steel Sashimi Knife
Seto’s steel sashimi knife manages to strike the right balance between style and substance. Coming from a company founded by a master sword maker, it’s a yanagi that’s boldly traditional while still being suitable for the cutting-edge kitchens of today. With a VG10 stainless steel core forged using an ancient technique and then coated with 33 layers of Damascus steel, the knife features an ultra-sharp, single-sided edge that’s perfect for precise cuts. Rounding out the package is a striking, D-shaped handle made from red sandalwood with a plywood bolster.
Pros: A traditionally made yanagi that’s suitable for professionals and hobbyists alike.
Cons: The design aesthetic may come off as stuffy to some.
3. Shun Classic Hollow-Ground Slicing Knife
Shun’s hollow-ground slicing knife may not look like much at first, but study it more and its elegance becomes clear. Featuring a classic aesthetic, the knife’s 9-inch blade is covered in 68 layers of Damascus steel to ensure a consistently precise slice that will retain all the juice and flavor of your fish. And while you’ll want to mainly use it for sashimi, the company promises it can handle meat and poultry as well. Plus, you’ll also never have to worry about it losing its edge, as Shun promises to resharpen the knife whenever necessary.
Pros: An elegant, simple yanagi that delivers super-clean cuts every time.
Cons: Its charm may not be appreciated by those craving more style.
4. Yoshihiro Hongasumi Yanagi Knife
Yoshihiro’s Hongasumi yanagi is an all-but-guaranteed way to quickly level up your sashimi prep skills. It features a stunning 11.8-inch, single-edge blade made from VG stainless steel that measures a 62-63 on the Rockwell hardness scale. Ultra-sharp straight out of the box, the knife comes with a protective sheath and is easy to sharpen, so with proper upkeep you’ll barely have to apply any pressure to cut through fish, even years after purchase. Adding to the knife’s allure is an elegant and tasteful look.
Pros: A gorgeous, professional-quality addition to any chef’s knife set.
Cons: Not recommended for beginners.