Different Types of Japanese Knives

Posted by Steven Tuckey on

Japanese kitchen knives may have a broader range of designs, aesthetic preferences, and materials than other knife-making cultures worldwide. Knives come in various styles, from highly specialized ones like Yanagibas and Debas to flexible multipurpose ones like Santokus and Gyutos.

There are certain similarities among Japanese knives, although there aren't many. Japanese cutlery frequently uses high-quality steels, which are heat-treated to a higher degree than their western offerings.

Whatever style of knife you decide to purchase, you're likely to discover one that suits your needs.

Gyuto

The Gyuto is the Japanese equivalent of the typical western-style chef's knife. It is a flexible, all-purpose knife that cuts most meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

In comparison to a Western chef's knife, the Gyuto knife's double bevel blade is often thinner, lighter, and keeps an edge better.

Petty

The Petty knife, often referred to as the Japanese utility knife or paring knife, is a multifunctional knife that is generally larger than a western paring knife but smaller than the Japanese chef's knife, the Gyuto.

Petty knives are regarded as a scaled-down counterpart of the Gyuto chef's knife and are utilized similarly as an all-purpose knife to peel, slice, dice, mince, peel, and trim a range of smaller fruits, vegetables, herbs, garnishes, and meats.

Nakiri

The Nakiri knife is a Japanese vegetable knife designed in the Western style, with a slim and broad rectangular blade, a straight cutting edge, and a flat, dull tip.

It is well-liked throughout Japan as a must-have for vegetarians and home cooks since it excels at quick and precise chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing fruits and vegetables.

Sujihiki

The term "Sujihiki" describes the meat and fish the knife cuts. Sujihikis are long and thin, which minimizes the need to saw back and forth. The blade's low height also causes less friction, resulting in the cleanest cuts.

When you already own a few knives, such as a Gyuto and petty, a Sujihiki truly completes the collection.

Santoku/Bunka

The Santoku is a famous Japanese knife that may be used for various tasks and is known for having three virtues in its name.

According to tradition, the Santoku's three qualities are its adaptability in chopping, dicing, and slicing, or the main items it may be used for: fish, meat, and vegetables.

The Santoku is distinguished by its straight cutting edge, broad sheepsfoot blade, and downward-curving spine that leads to its pointed tip as opposed to the Bunka, which has a distinctively angled tip known as a "k-tip" or "reverse-tanto."

Kiritsuke

The Kiritsuke is a hybrid between the Yanagiba and the Usuba, one of the few traditional multipurpose Japanese-style knives.

Like the Usuba and the Yanagiba, its flexibility makes it ideal for slicing fish and chopping vegetables. Additionally, it may cut or divide out boneless foods like chicken.

However, it shouldn't be used in place of the Gyuto or a Chef's Knife.

Yanagiba

The Yanagiba is a classic Japanese sashimi knife with a thin, long blade, primarily used to slice boneless fish fillets for sashimi or nigiri sushi.

The typically long, thin blade has a single bevel edge and a pointed tip, making it razor-sharp and ideal for slicing raw fish. The Yanagiba cuts in one continuous motion by drawing the knife from the heel to the tip with minimal cellular damage.

Deba

The Deba is a strong, broad Japanese-style kitchen knife with a robust spine and a pointed, razor-sharp blade edge. Although its durability and weight make it frequently employed for breaking down chicken and other meat with little bones, it can also clean, fillet, and behead an entire fish.

Most Debas, like traditional Japanese knives, have only one side of the blade honed to provide a razor-sharp edge.

Hankotsu

Hankotsu is used for breaking / boning animals. To scrape against bone without compromising the edge on the sharpened area, the knife's last third, near the handle, is left unhoned. The names Honesuki maru and Nishigata hankotsu are other names for this blade. The Hankotsu is a double-bevel knife but quite asymmetrical.

 

Honesuki

A breaking and boning knife designed primarily for poultry. The triangular design is ideal for breaking down and deboning a whole chicken carcass. Honesuki has a double bevel blade but a strong asymmetry.

 

Unagisaki hōchō

Eel is known as Unagi in Japanese, and it could be the best example of a knife to grasp the significance of different knife shapes in Japan.

The eel knives are still in use in various styles. You may get knives made in Nagoya, Kyushu, Kyoto, Edo (Tokyo), Osaka, and Edo styles. One of the important meals in Japan is eel, which is prepared and chopped differently depending on the region.

 

Fuguhiki

Fugu is the Japanese word for puffer fish, while Hiki is the word for cutting. Chefs exclusively use a fuguhiki knife for puffer fish. Because every fish is distinct and requires a precise cut, each chef owns four or five different fuguhiki blades with varying thicknesses.

Usuba

The Usuba is a Japanese Style vegetable knife with a narrow rectangular blade and a straight blade edge (Single- bevel), similar in design to a small cleaver.

Usuba knife cuts or produces thin sheets of vegetables. Its sharp blade makes it easier to cut through solid vegetables without shattering them owing to its single-bevel edge.

Chukabocho

Chukabocho is the Japanese word for a Cai Dao (Chinese vegetable cleaver) or 'Chinese style.' The chukabocho knife is created in Japan using traditional Japanese knife forging processes.

The Chukabocho has a crisp and straight double bevel edge and is distinguished by its unusually tall, massive, rectangular-shaped blade, which resembles the Nakiri and the Edo-Usuba in shape.

Ko-Bunka

A Bunka gets scaled down to become a Ko Bunka. The Japanese prefix "ko" means 'little'. This little knife is fantastic since it still allows for knuckle space on the cutting board so you can efficiently mince garlic and chop vegetables.

A Ko-Bunka performs best when used as an all-purpose blade or for minor tasks in the hand. A Ko-bunka may also be used to delicately debone smaller meats, fish, and poultry.

Kamagata

A Kama-gata knife features a narrow, sharp blade with a rounded edge that makes it possible to chop, peel, and slice vegetables with minor or any damage. It is mainly utilized in Japan's Kansai region.

Ajikiri

The Japanese word for crevalle jackfish is "aji," while the word "Kiri" means "cut." Therefore, the Ajikiri is a very flexible small blade used by sushi chefs and experienced Japanese fisherfolk.

Most Ajikiri resembles a little Deba; however, unlike a Deba, the Ajikiri's blade is relatively thin, making it feel incredibly light in the hand.

Reito

A Reito knife has a strong blade made especially for cutting frozen foods. The edges of the majority of models contain serrations that may be used to cut into food. Others resemble a thicker, more durable Gyuto and have a flat edge.

Conclusion

Japanese knives are classified into two types: traditional style and western style. Japanese food preparation calls for using traditional knives with single-bevel blades, such as the Yanagiba and Usuba (e.g., slicing sashimi). Western-style knives with two bevels, such as the Gyuto and Santoku, are typically more general-purpose.

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