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Shun Knives FirstLook

There is no kitchen equipment more important than a good knife. A good knife can make cutting, slicing, and chopping tasks precise, effortless, and even pleasurable. It may seem counterintuitive, but a keen edge is much safer than a dull one. A sharp blade will cut without slipping, slice without tearing, and chop without crushing. At the end of 2010, we told you that Ginsu has upped their game in kitchen knives with the Chikara and Hanaita lines. Today, we want to give readers a FirstLook at the 21-piece block setfrom Shun Cutlery.

Shun knives are convex ground for a long-lasting edge that also helps move food away from the blade quickly. Sharpened to a 16° angle on each side, Shun’s “extreme edges” ensure that foods will not be bruised or torn during preparation. The traditional Japanese D-shaped handle offers the perfect grip and balance. The PakkaWood® used in the handles is beautiful, durable, and comfortable. PakkaWood is resin-impregnated natural hardwood designed for ultra-premium applications. It is waterproof, incredibly durable, and won’t harbor bacteria.

Set includes:

  • 2 1/2-in. Bird’s Beak
  • 3 1/2-in. Paring knife
  • 3 1/2-in. Vegetable knife
  • 6-in. Chef’s knife
  • 8-in. Chef’s knife
  • 6-in. Utility knife
  • 6-in. Boning/Fillet
  • Carving fork
  • 6-in. Santoku
  • 9-in. Slicing knife
  • 7-in. Vegetable Cleaver
  • Steak knives; set of 6
  • Offset Bread knife
  • Kitchen Shears
  • Honing Steel
  • 22-slot bamboo block

Pay close attention to the details of a quality knife. There should be no gaps or misalignments in the “fit and finish” of the handle with the blade. With Shun, the quality is self-evident. This precision is one of the reasons why Shun cutlery has earned its NSF Certification for use in commercial kitchens.

There is a lot more to these knives than just their great looks. They were designed with care and purpose. Take the Ultimate Steak Knife as an example. A fine-edge steak knife typically means that the edge will dull quickly when used on a ceramic plate. Shun designed the Ultimate Steak knife to address this problem. The knife has both a 16° blade angle and a low-frequency serration. It is able to cut cleanly without dulling because only the tips of the serrations touch the plate. The result is amazing edge retention.

The only “problem” with the Ultimate Steak Knives is that they won’t fit in the Shun bamboo block. The slots for the steak knifes are just a little bit too small to accommodate the wider blade of the Shun Ultimate Steak Knife. Not sure why this is the case, but we hope it will be fixed with the next version of their knife blocks.

Of course, the most striking feature anyone examining a piece of Shun cutlery will notice is the beautiful patterning on the blade. In Japan, the patterning is known as suminigashi, or ink pattern, because of its resemblance to that made by ink in water. To create this style of blade, a harder cutting steel is clad on each side with 16 layers of softer steel. Then the blades are bead-blasted to reveal the elegant, waved pattern.

In addition to its beauty, this construction method has two purposes. First, it protects and supports the extremely hard cutting core. Second, it helps the blade glide through food more smoothly. When a hard core is clad with an exterior jacket of another steel is called “mist” or kasumi in Japanese. It is so called because the exterior steel can have a lovely misty appearance when compared to the harder cutting core. Kasumi construction provides the ultimate mix of properties: an extremely sharp edge and ease of sharpening. This clad construction is similar to how samurai swords are traditionally made. Go here to learn more about the Shun forging technology as compared to those such used by Henkels and Wusthof.

These Shun knives are the top-of-the-line and may just be some of the best knives money can buy. Want to know more about these beautiful knives before investing in one? We will have extended FirstLook and FirstUse write-ups of the Shun knives in this set in the iPad issue of RainyDayKitchen in the Spring. Look for it in the App Store in April.

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