How to Use Your Japanese Steak Knives Like a Pro

hands holding japaese steak knife

When shopping for a Japanese kitchen knife set, it’s a good idea to include steak knives as part of your purchase! The steak knife is a handy tool in the kitchen but is often left out of the conversation when we discuss buying knives.

If you want to invest in the best steak knives, keep reading! We’ll go over just what a steak knife is, what sets Japanese steak knives apart, how to use them properly and what Japanese knife should I buy.

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What is a Steak Knife?

A steak knife is a knife that is designed to cut through meats like steak with minimal damage. They are a lot more potent than a typical knife that one would find in a cutlery set. A high-quality steak knife’s sharp edge and ease of use allow users to cut through a juicy steak easily, avoiding shredding the meat.

Some people confuse the paring knife/petty knife for a steak knife, but they are different tools. While a paring knife and steak knife are similar in size, paring knives come in more varieties. Steak knives are specialty knives and tend to be longer with a stiff hard blade. Paring knives will be shorter and flexible for greater control when peeling, slicing, or making delicate cuts.

Japanese Knife vs. Western Knife: What’s the Difference?

You’ll find Western and Japanese knives are the two most common varieties when shopping for knives. But what makes them different?

Western Knives

A Western knife, also called a German knife, is the most common knife type a cook will encounter. These knives are made with rough chopping and cutting, suited to Western ingredients like starchy vegetables and meat with bones. These knives are defined by having a slightly heavier weight and a thicker blade with a slight curve. Western knives will also be sharpened on both sides of the blade, forming a symmetrical bevel.

Japanese Knives

With thinner blades, a Japanese knife tends to be much lighter than Western knives. The most significant difference, though, is the lack of curve in the blade. Japanese knives are straight along the bottom, meant to make precise cuts and delicate trimming needed for Japanese cuisine. Japanese knives will be sharpened for a single bevel blade on only one side.

How to Use a Japanese Steak Knife

If you want to be a total steak knife pro, try the following:

How to Safely Cut Using a Steak Knife

When cutting meat with a steak knife, you should hold it in your dominant hand. Grip the knife handle with your fingers, placing the index finger on the top of the knife, where the blade meets the handle.

To make your cut, pierce the steak with your fork to hold it steady, then cut through the meat. This way, you should be able to cut with ease! Holding it this way will give you greater control over the blade and let you put pressure to hold the knife steady as you cut. 

Other Uses for Steak Knives

While most steak knives are designed for one use, these can accomplish many other kitchen tasks! Here’s how to get the most out of your Japanese steak knife:

Fruits and Vegetables: A steak knife can be great for cutting up most small producers in a pinch. While we don’t recommend using this for something as large as a watermelon (a santoku knife or chef knife works here), it’s excellent for smaller fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, apples, berries, etc.

Dairy: If you need to chop some cheese, a chef knife is an excellent tool. Use it to put things into cubes or slices.

Meats: A steak knife wouldn’t be good for carving a whole chicken, but it is a good choice for minor work with meat. A steak knife is good for the job if you want to trim essential fat or portion things like fish.

Caring for Your Steak Knife

If you want your steak knife to last, it’s essential to take care of it. Over time Damascus steel can become brittle or damaged without proper care. To ensure your Japanese steak knife set lasts a lifetime, you must clean and store them properly.

Properly Wash and Store

Dishwashers can be too harsh, putting your knives through a lot of movement that leads to chips and breaks. Dishwashers are also awful on a wood handle, which can become warped and damage when submerged in water. It would help if you always handed wash your knives, whether a massive carving knife or a tiny steak knife.

After handwashing your knife, you should immediately dry them. Then, store them in a cool, dry place. Both are good options for a magnetic strip knife rack or a wooden knife block. It will keep your knives nice and dry and away from dirt and debris in the kitchen.

Regularly Sharpen

To get the most out of a steak knife, you should sharpen them regularly. It’s important to remember that a Japanese chef knife will need to be sharpened differently than a Western knife.

Western knives get sharpened on both sides, which is what some knife sharpener tools are suited to. Use a tool like a sharpening rod or stone to ensure you only sharpen a single side of your knife. This will give you greater control over the sharpening.

Video Credit: YouTube

In Conclusion

We hope the abovementioned tips will help you get the most out of your Japanese steak knives! These are beautiful tools for the kitchen, especially for meat lovers who want an easy, enjoyable eating experience.

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John Siracusa

Cooking, for me, has always been an "art" infused with traditions. My career was inspired by Hell's Kitchen, the West Side of Manhattan, which boasts one of N.Y. City's best independent restaurant communities, along with Gordon Ramsay's no-nonsense approach towards always being your best.

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