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Japan’s knifemaking tradition is ancient and venerable. Ultimately, it derives from the Japanese swordmaking heritage. Hundreds of years of knowledge and experience go into each blade, whether sword or kitchen knife. Each culinary blade shape has its own particular function and use. Shun offers you a wide selection of blade shapes ideal for every kitchen task, from traditional Japanese styles to shapes more familiar from the western tradition.
Here’s a quick guide for discovering which knives you might want to add to your kitchen collection.
The Must-Have Basics
A paring knife gets its name from its main function: removing or “paring” away things, such as peels, from fruits and vegetables. It’s also ideal for coring, trimming, decorating, and other detail work.
A good utility knife is a must-have in a kitchen knife line up. In size, it’s between a chef’s knife and a paring knife, making it perfect for all those in-between tasks.
If there is one knife that no cook can be without, it’s a chef’s knife. This all-purpose blade is ideal for a wide variety of cutting tasks. It’s perfect for slicing and dicing small to medium-sized fruits, vegetables, and other foods. With its curved belly, the chef’s knife can also be gently “rocked” through fresh herbs or spices to produce a very fine mince.
The Great-To-Have Collection
If you bake or buy whole loaves of bread, this knife will be one of the most-used tools in your kitchen. Shun bread knives feature razor-sharp, wide, “low frequency” serrations. The serrations let you gently cut through the bread without crushing and with fewer crumbs. Unlike sawtooth serrations, our wide serrations cut through the bread without tearing, keeping the bread’s texture intact.
The Master Utility combines the nimbleness of a utility knife with the do-it-all capabilities of a chef's knife. The blade is slightly longer and wider, so you can easily accomplish a wide range of tasks with a compact knife. Extra width at the heel and a slightly curved belly enables rocking cuts with knuckle clearance. A larger handle gives you a confident grip as you work. The Master Utility's downturned tip (similar to a kiritsuke) is extra durable.
A slicing knife is long and narrow, enabling you to make even slices without sawing. This kind of clean cut keeps more of the flavorful juices inside the meat. Along with the Shun-sharp edge, the narrow blade proﬁle enables the blade to glide through the protein with less friction so each slice is perfect.
Just the right amount of flex in this blade’s AUS8A steel makes ﬁlleting ﬁsh easier. The knife conforms to the ribs of the ﬁsh, removing meat from bones quickly and easily. AUS8A is a high-carbon stainless steel that offers strength, hardness, and wear resistance, as well as a small amount of flex.
The key to a delicious steak is keeping more of the flavorful juices where they belong—inside the steak. A razor-sharp, ﬁne-edged knife glides through your steak, cutting fewer of the capillaries in the meat and keeping more of the juices inside. You will be astonished at what a difference it makes!
6-inch Chef’s knife
Sometimes you want a chef’s knife that’s particularly lightweight and highly maneuverable. A 6-inch chef’s knife is a perfect choice. Like all chef’s knives, it is an all-purpose blade ideal for a wide variety of cutting tasks. Yet with a shorter blade, it’s a particularly easy knife to use.
A santoku is an Asian-inspired knife that many cooks today have added to their kitchen favorites. A knife of many talents, a santoku easily handles all the basic cutting tasks. Slightly shorter than the standard chef’s knife, the santoku is light, agile, and very easy to maneuver.
Specialty Blade Shapes
In Japan, this nimble, triangular blade is called a honesuki. It’s perfect for boning poultry and trimming meats. Yet it also has a wide variety of other food prep functions—from slicing garlic to trimming vegetables. The narrow tip is ideal for maneuvering around bones and between joints. The wider end makes slicing vegetables like shallots or trimming green beans quick and easy. This blade shape provides a high level of control, which is especially important when boning or handling small to medium-sized fruits and vegetables. If you like a compact, agile knife, the Asian Multi-Prep will be your new go-to.
For boning, the narrow, sharp, curved blade gets in close, making it easy to separate meat from bone. It’s perfect for trimming the silver skin from a tenderloin, a roast, or even making your own cutlets. The narrow blade reduces the drag as you cut against the meat, and the six-inch length is just right to glide through ﬁsh, quickly removing bones and skin.
The kiritsuke is known as the Japanese master’s knife. The kiritsuke is used for a wide variety of kitchen tasks, similar to a chef’s knife. It works extremely well with vegetables and slices proteins with grace and ease.
While it may look like a meat cleaver, it isn’t. Instead, the Asian Utility Knife, developed by Shun, is adept at processing everything from vegetables for stir fry to thinly slicing meats. Every part of this knife can be put to use: the flat to smash a garlic clove, the back to tenderize meat, and the tip and razor-sharp edge for everything from skinning ﬁsh to shaving vegetables.
The Ultimate Utility is a unique knife style developed by Shun. Most of our lines include this style because it is extremely versatile and has proven to be popular with Shun customers. The cutting edge has a “low-frequency” serration that makes the knife perfect for slicing delicate thin-skinned fruits and vegetables. The wide blade with its rounded tip also makes it a great knife for spreading condiments on a sandwich—or icing on a cake.
Both professional chefs and home cooks around the world choose this beautiful and extremely useful tool whenever they have fruits or vegetables to slice and dice. With its straight blade, edge, and spine, the nakiri isn’t rocked like a chef’s knife. Instead, it should be used with a simple push cut—down and forward—to enjoy the clean, swift work it makes of your produce.
The yanagiba is most often used for slicing raw ﬁsh for sashimi and for slicing sushi rolls, yet it’s also perfect for preparing a variety of proteins. The incredible sharpness of this single-bevel blade reduces loss of the natural juices and creates clean cuts. To use a yanagiba, gently pull it through the food using just the weight of the blade itself to do the cutting.
A brisket knife is ideal for trimming and slicing larger cuts of meat, including brisket, ham, and turkey. The brisket knife is long and narrow with hollow grounds, enabling you to cut elegant slices in a single pass. A rounded tip makes this knife safer and easier to use.