My Usuba Bōchō

This is my Usuba bōchō, one of the most practical knives, I use it almost everyday. This blade is a thin blade, a relative thinness compared to other knives, required for cutting through firm vegetables. The backside and shape of the knife helps preventing vegetables from cracking. One single cut, it does what you ask, this knife requires a different miss en place in a kitchen.

Many western chefs prefer to work with a typical two-sided blade, as a single-edged blade requires a careful kitchen sensibility to maintain them in good condition. A knife is often thrown around, it chips easily, and a commis can ruin the chefs knife when he turns his back. This isn’t to say that you won’t chip it yourself. It happens sometimes as these knives are made of soft steel. Yet it doesn’t really matter because a sharpening will fix any trouble.

My usuba is more than a tool, you can gain well-defined taste through cut, texture and cut mire poix better than any other knife will, or can do, even in the best hand. Also well-known for cutting daikon paper-thin, namely Katsuramaki, a technique that takes practice. This is thin daikon is used for sashimi, it is named tsuma, a garnish.

The problem, if you call it that, is you need to wipe your usuba bōchō shortly after using it. These knives are very susceptible to rust given their metallurgic qualities. The carbon steel gains rust almost immediately. Then again, if you want knife performance you need to compromise.

The compromise is a razor sharp knife, frequent sharpening, almost daily I push and pull my knives over several stones finding the right angles to make them perform the way I like. The backside, not seen here, is concave, not flat, and referred as urasuki.

The techniques used are easy once you get the hang of it, gain confidence and experience. There is no feeling quite the same when you knife is sharp and does what you ask it. These knives are unique because you learn respect, concentration and trust.

A knife is meant to be razor sharp, it is safer to have a sharp knife over a dull blade. A blade that requires force will eventually cut you finger, a knife that delivers your immediate commands will never let you down.

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