Crazily Curious About The Japanese Chef Knife

If you are like most people, then you probably think of knives as just another kitchen utensil and that they are all one in the same. They all do look sort of alike, after all. But they are completely different. Well that’s what I thought until my friend who is currently studying the culinary arts at his university decided to tell me about the different types of knives that chef’s use and their history. It seemed boring at first; I mean let’s face it, nobody cares about the history of knives.

That is until he begun to tell me about the Japanese chef knife. I had no idea the Japanese made chef knives Since I’ve been to Japan once before I was pretty interested.

Incredible Japanese Knives

One the best knives out there is the Japanese chef knife, also known as the gyuto, and it has many different edges in comparison to the knives made in the west. The Japanese also went a step further and made their knife out of a harder steel which makes it more innovative than those manufactured in the western hemisphere.

What To Look Out For

When choosing a chef knife be it Japanese chef knife or regular Western chef knife one needs to take some key points into consideration. The handle and the blade make a big difference in knives in general, and these are no different.

1. Sharp edge or Blades – the blades can be made of a number of materials, mostly carbon steel, stainless steel, titanium, ceramic or laminated.

2. The Handle — these can be made out of wood, plastic, rubber, micarta, leather and stainless steel. The handle material and shape will definitely affect how easy a knife is to use. Case in point; if you have a wooden knife handle you will find that it is easy to hold but not easily maintained, plus over time it may break.

Japanese Knives As Gifts

Well this lesson on knives has enlightened me to the fact that to a chef a knife isn’t just a knife. That they are produced in different countries and that the West has now taken an interest in Japanese chef knives. So for that cooking guru in your family this could very be a perfect gift for them.

Piedmont Cuisine Regional Dishes

By Valerie Quintanilla

The joke amongst the locals about Piedmont cuisine is “you don’t eat anywhere better in the world, but you always eat the same thing.” And, it’s pretty accurate. Menus rarely deviate from the traditional antipasti, primi, and secondi fare rooted in the many facets of the region’s history and culture.

Piedmont cuisine is rich and savory, matching its powerful, tannin-heavy Nebbiolo wines. In addition to its famed Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera wines, the region is also home to world renowned beef, the Slow Food movement and the famous Alba white truffle, Tartufo Bianco d’Alba.

Piedmont Cuisine: 7 Regional Dishes

Antipasto

1. Bagna Cauda

Bagna Cauda is a staple of the region. Once upon a time this romantic delicacy kicked off Piemontese meals. The olive oil-based anchovy and garlic fondue is served over an open flame to keep it warm throughout the meal. In Piemontese bagna cauda means “hot bath”.

Traditionally the dish took center stage on the table, flanked by food and wine. According to Piedmont’s Wine Pass Italy, harvest workers ate heartily from the terra-cotta bowls by dipping roughly cut veggies in the smooth sauce. Its richness and the array of seasonal vegetables for dipping make it a popular autumn to winter dish. Locals like to enjoy it with the tannic Dolcetto or an acidic and fruity Barbera.

Celebrate Bagna Cauda

If you really want to experience Bagna Cauda, plan a trip to the region in November for the three day event that celebrates it. For details on Bagna Cauda Day visit BagnaCaudaDay.it.

2. Carne Cruda

A lot of westerners wrinkle their nose at the idea of carne cruda. It’s not that difficult to see why. It’s means raw meat, which is exactly what you get. In many parts of the world raw meat is a no-no due to the quality of uncooked beef. But, that is not the case with carne cruda in Piedmont.

The local cattle, called “Razza bovine piemontese” is known for its high standard of breeding as well as its low cholesterol content. In the 1870s the cattle started showing a unique “double muscling” characteristic that resulted in beef with extra muscle mass and very little fat. Despite the lack of fatty marbling this lean beef remains tender and juicy.

Carne cruda is served either thinly sliced as a beef carpaccio or ground, mixed with olive oil, fresh garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Black or white truffle shavings make it an extra special treat. The popular dish is served as an antipasto, the course before primo and after aperitivo. Enjoy it with Dolcetto or Barbera.

Primo

3. Tajarin

Every region of Italy has its own type of pasta. In Piedmont one of the most traditional is tajarin, a long, thin ribbon-like pasta that is similar to tagliatelle. Tajarin is a golden yellow color from the rich farmhouse eggs that resemble an orange hue. An early recipe is said to require 30 egg yolks and over two pounds (just under a kilo) of flour.

The pasta is cut into 1/8 to 1/4-inches wide strands. It is traditionally served with a tomato- and meat-based ragu or with a butter and sage mixture – a classic of Piedmont cuisine. During the late autumn and winter the butter and sage version is perfect with fresh Alba white truffle shavings. 

The Alba White Truffle

The Alba white truffle is a subterranean fungus, famously found in the Piedmont countryside around Asti and Alba. These fungi fruit in autumn and show best in colder winter months. These woodland delicacies have pungent aromas and strong, earthy tastes. They are shaved over pasta, fried eggs, risotto, burgers, pizza, and more. White truffles reach up to $3,600 a pound. To-date the most expensive white truffle weighed in at 2 lbs and sold for $330,000 at an auction.

More: Piedmont Italy New Food Capital