The Deba Knife
The Origins of the Deba Knife
The Deba Knife was orginally created in Sakai, Osaka - Japan. At the time Sakai was full of high quality steel and carbon, handle woods such as gorgeous cherry wood and an orchard of the worlds greatest Samurai sword makers. This was the perfect region for the creation of such a knife as the Deba knife.
Originally the Portuguese had requested the slicing of large amounts of tobacco and the Deba was originally created for this purpose. Due to it's utility as a blade for many more things it's popularity and use grew quickly.
What is the Deba Knife used for?
As use became mopre popular the knife started to be one of the mains in a Japanese kitchen.With its middle length blade, sharp edge and thick spine it became a multi purpose knife which specialized in the chopping of proteins (mainly fish as that what the most commonly consumed protein).
The knife has a think spine and a relatively short blade length (short compared to a Gyuto or Yanagiba) making it an easy knife to lift and land on fish heads, chicken wings or just about anything.
As Japanese meals often contained vegetables, rice and fish the Deba knife became part of a very common and popular three knife collection (the Deba for the bulk of work including fish cutting and chopping, the Nakiri a slimmer blade with a straight edge used for vegetable preparation and the Yanagiba or Sujihiki used for the final single strokes to slice the fish.
(Deba on the left, Sujihiki in the middle, Nakiri on the right)
The Deba Blade
The Deba blade is somewhat unique, particularly in the western world. The blade comes in a variety of lengths however normally is slightly shorter than a chefs knife thicker at the spine of the blade. The main difference that requires an advance in knife handling skills is that the Deba is a Single Bevel blade with a concave inner camber which means there is actually very little contact between the knife and the subject being cut or sliced. An example of the specifications for a Deba knife can be seen below.
Details of a Deba Knife
Why buy a Deba Knife?
This depends where you are. If you are in Japan it's a dumb question because you probably already have a Deba knife and you buy a new one if you want to upgrade or replace your existing Deba. If you are anywhere else in the world its a tad more complex.
The single beveled edge to the blade mean that slicing and cutting has a totally different feeling and when it is used for the first time it is very tricky to master. The Deba is also a commonly used filleting knife (the most commonly used filleting knife in Japan) however it once again it is totally different than a western filleting knife (which usually is a slim flexible knife).
If you're after something that works like you know the Deba knife is not for you. However, if you are looking for something totally new and innovative, then it might be worth splurging on a blade such as the Deba - just go for one that will look right in your kitchen!