We kicked off our "Hey, Tara." series with the following question, "Which are better, German or Japanese kitchen knives?"
Answer: It depends :)
Tara has been working in and around the kitchen knife industry for decades and has a wealth of knowhow to share.
Check the video below or scan the transcript for context on German or Japanese kitchen knife styles for your household.
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A Transcript follows:
Well, welcome. Let's see if we add,
Oh, it's a win. Hello. Hi, where we find you.
I am good. I just say beautiful day and I have been feeling much better. So that's a win.
It's been crazy.
Yes, it has. Thanks for jumping on, I think we'll, we'll test this and see how it goes. I'm just going to fire one question at you and then we'll save it and see what happens.
And then, uh, and then we'll do another one.
It'll be awesome.
Okay. So, uh, I have looked to you for knife expertise and, uh, the goal is to see out of all of your time in knives and, uh, Kitchen where awesomeness as our friends are joining, um, how you respond to, uh, to this question?
Uh, my brother-in-law says my knife suck.
Uh, that I should buy Japanese ones.
And, uh, my question is, is he right?
I do not agree that Japanese knives are best for every home, but that's a lot of diverse experience in that, in that statement. Um, there's a lot of beauty to Japanese knives. There's also a lot of particulars to them at different points. And one of the things I believe in is finding the right knife for you versus just going with what's kind of standard out there right now saying this is the best or that's the best.
Um, there are so many options and so many variables that make knife use fun when you find the right knife. So that would be my statement. I don't want to upset your brother-in-law, but no, I wouldn't completely agree with that exact statement.
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So I can, I can get other ones, uh, it hasn't, uh, H plug here jumped in and he said German or bust.
He's to devoted to what bring to the table. That's one of the issues, you know, it's like,
As you're talking to people about knives and they're trying to go back and forth between German and Japanese, um, how do you help them see the differences?
Typically the first thing and, and understanding the aesthetic of the differences between the two.
If we're saying very general terms, typically German knives will have. Three bolster, excuse me. A three rivet style handle with a full tang and there's two pieces of material and other side of that tank called scales. And it can be any material, but the shape of that handle is fairly consistent. And then you have in what a lot of people are saying, German knives are meaning a full bolstered knife.
So bolster that goes all the way to the cutting edge and adds heft and weight for that design, that profile typically of a German knife. Or heavy rock chopping use, and it's hard to defeat those knives for that purpose they're made for it. They've, they've been designed to do those things exceptionally well.
And I, you know, I have a love for them. Obviously I worked for Wusthof for years, and so I love German knives. There's just a difference. I would say.
And looking at a Japanese knife, most people are imagining that wast Al handle that straight would handle, and it doesn't feel of those knives dramatically.
Also the same thing that handles come from hundreds of years of design and engineering to make it the right way. So a lot of times I'm describing knives while I'm also wanting people to understand how they use their knives and what feels comfortable and secure and safe in their hand.
Because you guys might really like it. But if you keep changing your grip or if you find you're afraid to push that knife through a task, because it doesn't feel steady or secure in your hand, if you've got the wrong knife on paper, but it's the wrong knife, you know?
Yeah. Yeah, so "steady and safe, being more important than style" is what I'm hearing you say.
I think so, because there's so much out there, style is find-able finding what works, the weight, the balance feel you, you can find a style if you want to. If you love the way a German knife. There's, you know, nemesis knives, which are beautiful and they're a few thousand dollars there. Everything a German knife should be.
Um, but they're also beautiful and they're , and they are damascus all kinds of fun to that. So yeah, finding comfortable, safe, and well balanced in your hands for your tasks is number one choice. So a lot of times I can find something that's a handle style, a color, a blade design that works for what your eyes want.
Um, if I. Works for you.
I'm laughing. Cause my son, um, is getting like soccer cleats and it doesn't like the colors it's like need new ones or like, oh, come on.
Just made you fast.
Yeah. Right. Yeah. So how do you, how do you, how do you think about knives that have tendencies in both styles? So like, they'll have like a Japanese front, maybe even Japanese steel, but a German handle or the German companies making the Japanese styles. Right.
I like hybrids because sometimes the traditional illness of a, let's say a Zwilling J. A. Henckels uh, pro S series, um, the knife that was designed 75, a hundred years ago.
So it, if it's still relevant to what you're using now and what you like now, that's great. But now hybrids, we're making a strong play because the cooking community is a bit of a hybrid. Now we don't all show lucidly, a French cooking show. We don't watch just exclusively a Japanese cooking show. So you're seeing all these techniques and we imitate them and we might have a weird technique that's not quite right for that, but it's, uh, it, the hybrid knives will help. You know, I mean, if you kind of get a feeling for what you like and doing a hybrid makes sense to me in many ways. Um, I, because I do a lot with professionals, right? Yeah. I've I sorta like, Hey, I want this knife to do this, but you know, for the next year or two, it's got to cut 150 pounds of potatoes every day.
Is it a year and a half when I get a promotion or I get a job change and I'm going to do like more refined stuff, um, relating that into the house. It's it's like, maybe you don't cook as much right now, but you get into it more. The more you enjoy your knives. In that case, let's make sure that there's knives focusing in a direction that you're going to go.
So. I see a lot of hybrid techniques just with people in the store on that board, you know, it's like, I see this or using it in a push cut we've we've, we'll talk more, but I mean it, those things, and then right after that, they're, they're rock shopping because they're, they're practicing mincing. Those are two totally different techniques.
It's, it's fascinating. We, uh, are starting to throw knife courses and you'll have German knives and Japanese knives. And, uh, boy, it's, it's, it's so easy to go back to your habit. So you just learned pinch and you're going to push. Yeah. And okay. Now let's change from a carrot to a cucumber and suddenly we're rocking and you're like that knife is not for that.
It's like, so.
Sorry. I did not mean to speak over you. Oftentimes when you're showing something to somebody, show them the technique for that knife and they feel it and it makes sense, but you have to learn that little step, sometimes have wild knife skills at home.
That's one way to describe it. My S my knife skills are wild. Like, listen, look out. So, yeah,
I've done it. And I have two weeks ago, on an acorn squash, because I was just, you know, I was spaced out talking to somebody. We were looking at watching a movie that was on and it was distraction for a second, and I felt it happen.
And I looked out like, really, I really, I just did this. And that happens all the time. I mean, if something happens and you're just like, wow,
Opps you know, moving on. Cool. So, well, Hey, I will go back to my brother-in-law and give him a much more nuanced answer next time- other than just telling him he's wrong.
Both ways in my, in my life.
Uh, I have a nuanced answer for you now other than "you're wrong." So great. Well, awesome. Thanks for doing this first one. We've got some more and we'll see how this goes.
Alright. Sounds good.