Knives from the Japanese Knives Select booth easily slice through vegetables with tough skins.
Cutting-edge kitchen knives
Sometimes new technology is not the best technology. That’s clearly the case when it comes to kitchen knives for cutting or chopping in meal preparation.
Ichi Yamada, staffing the Japanese Knives Select booth at the Scrips Ranch Farmer’s Market, gave a simple demonstration to establish the incredible quality of knives made by Japanese masters. He held a knife delicately in two fingers and let it fall onto a couple of cherry tomatoes. It sliced right through. This normally would not be an extraordinary demonstration, but anyone who has ever attempted to slice a cherry tomato for meal prep knows they are the most difficult. Cherry tomatoes are compact and have a deceptively tough skin that can be very frustrating for those trying to slice one in half. The result is usually a squished tomato or a squirt of juice to the eye. Not this time.
Products from Japanese Select Knives are precision instruments handcrafted by master blacksmiths from Japan. The home-based business offers high quality kitchen knives, gift sets, left-handed knives and on-site sharpening.
“We work with seven different blacksmiths,” said Ichi, who was staffing the booth for his wife, Krista Yamada, the owner of the business. “We make sure to visit them every year.”
These craftsmen all live in Japan and many of them have learned this rare skill from their fathers. It has been passed down through the generations of skilled blacksmiths.
“Many of them started as samurai swordsmiths and they don’t make swords anymore, but they just make outstanding, fantastic kitchen knives,” Ichi said. “The steel is different. Even using the exact same steel, if you’re not good, it doesn’t turn out like this.”
There is a clear difference between these knives and those that are mass-produced, Ichi noted. For one thing, they stay sharp longer, he said. When they become dull, just bring them back to the Farmer’s Market and Ichi will sharpen them for you. In addition, knives from Japanese Kitchen Select appear shiny around the cutting edge business end of the instruments, and not so shiny around the other side. This is because each knife is hand made in a forge, heated in a fire and hammered into shape.
“Different blacksmiths, they make it a little different every time,” Ichi explained.
There are different knives for different needs. For instance, one knife on display looked like a rectangular cleaver, but it’s actually a traditional Japanese vegetable knife. It’s very light and can be used to cut vegetables, fish or meat. It can cut several vegetables at once.
Long, sharp knives with straight edges are made for those who like to cut food by slicing. The ones with the tip that points slightly upward were made for those who prefer to rock the knife back and forth as they cut. The way one cuts determines the shape of the knife a customer should have.
The knives available at the booth each week are priced from $79 up to the $200 range. The Japanese Knives Select booth is at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market each Saturday.
The Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market is always underway from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Saturday at 10380 Spring Canyon Road, in the Innovations Academy parking lot. The market hosts an average of 60 vendors each Saturday.