Food, Home & Lifestyle

Japanese Culinary Tools

Niki Nakayama

Lesson time 09:53 min

For many of the techniques you’ll learn in this class, you’ll need some specialized tools. Niki gives you an overview of the essentials and shares some of her favorites.

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Topics include: Japanese Culinary Tools


[MUSIC PLAYING] - So here we have our Japanese toolset, the things that we would use inside a Japanese kitchen. And they're really important, essential, because each one of them has a different usage. And they all make up what makes Japanese food really delightful in their presentation and helps with the precision and the execution of the dishes that we're going to make. [MUSIC PLAYING] First, I'd like to show you the knives. So as you can see, there are three different knives here. And the interesting thing about these knives is when you're learning to cook as a Japanese chef, the only knife you get in the beginning is this one here in the middle. This one here in the middle is called a usuba. And basically, it's a vegetable knife. So your number one rule of any type of Japanese training, professionally, is first and foremost, you need to learn how to cut vegetables properly. And plus, it's also one of the knives that are actually very intuitive in learning how to sharpen a knife, based on its shape. Next, you'll progress to a knife called the deba. The deba is a fish cutting knife. It has a really wonderful edge. And it's very thick and sturdy to cut through big fish and bones. And finally, when you've perfected that, you get to actually break down it even further to sashimi and sushi. And here we have the yanagi knife. The yanagi knife is, by far, the sharpest in terms of the way it can cut. It's also very fine. So one of the things that we look for when we're cutting sashimi is how fine that knife is when it cuts through the meat, so that it doesn't break down or tear the fibers of that fish or that product. And that's why the yanagi is one of the most important knives for sushi and sashimi slicing. - So the knives themselves-- the carbon that this particular yanagi is made of is one of the hardest metals out there. And that's what makes the edge retention on it so amazing. There's a lot of craftsmanship that goes into this to allow the sous chef or whoever is using this knife to be able to slice through the flesh of the fish in such a clean manner that you basically don't even feel it hitting the flesh. And the point of that is it kind of encompasses in its purest form what Japanese cutting is about. It's about preserving that natural ingredient. And the best way to do that is to have an amazingly sharp knife that just glides through the product, as opposed to pulling through the fibers of the fish. And I mean, we even talk about, like, the sheen that should be there if the knife is properly sharpened on certain ingredients. - Right. So for the professional chef, one of the golden rules with knives is that you must take care of your knives. They are an extension of yourself in terms of preparing this meal for your guests or your family or loved ones. And so you treat them with as much respect as you would an ingredient, meaning constantly wiping down. Because carbon does tend to st...

About the Instructor

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred restaurant n/naka in Los Angeles, Niki Nakayama is celebrated for her modern interpretation of kaiseki, a traditional Japanese cuisine. With her partner and sous chef, Carole, Niki will teach you techniques for preparing sashimi, tempura, perfect rice, and more. Learn how to make dishes that honor fresh ingredients as Niki shows you how to cook with care and gratitude.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Niki Nakayama

Niki Nakayama of two-Michelin-starred n/naka teaches you how to honor fresh ingredients with her innovative take on Japanese home cooking techniques.

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