The Nakiri Knife Anatomy
The Nakiri knife is the ultimate vegetable cutter. The Nakiri knife holds its origins in Japan however if you peered at one side on you may confuse the blade with the Chinese Cao Dao knife. The Nakiri is a rectangular blade, with a thin spine and the edge of the blade is nearly straight. The Nakiri knife is made to chop vegetables.
The Nakiri Knife Handle
1. The Handle / E
The light weight of the “Wa” handle, driven by the insertion of the tang and the reduced steel in the handle, the Nakiri can be raised and dropped at very high speed. Whilst this knife is not used for rolling, if you are looking looking to chop this is the knife for you. Chopping, when learned properly, is a much faster movement than rolling or slicing. The chef cutting an onion with a Nakiri knife will be twice as fast (if not faster) than he/she wielding a chef's knife.
2. The Handle Butt / Ejiri
The butt of the Nakiri handle can vary from knife to knife. Our design was simply because it felt good in the hand and is very light - meaning high speed movements like crucifying a capsicum or cutting through cabbage can be done at the speed of an F1.
3. The Handle Steel Section / Tang
Once again this was mainly about weight. We were aiming for light weight and comfort and the half tang insertion of the blade allowed us to significantly drop the weight to allow for high speed movement for long periods of time.
4. Collar / Kakumaki
The gentle slope of the collar on the Nakiri is designed to allow ease of holding and movement. For smaller fruits and vegetables we can slide our blade pinch closer to the fruit or vegetable being approached where as if we are cutting a large vegetable like cabbage or sweet potato we can move further back.
The Nakiri Knife Blade
5. Heel / Ago
The blade of a Nakiri when looked at side on is the same shape as a small tablet of Willy Wonka chocolate bar. The heel descends at 90% then straight down allowing you to use the heel of the blade to penetrate heavier ingredients such as pumpkins or potatoes. If the vegetable is super heavy you may grab the Deba.
6. Spine / Muni
The spine of the Nakiri knife is very thin which is crucial when trying to chop onions at high speed. If the spine is wide then the blade will have an angular descent meaning chopping straight is harder. The light weight blade and thin spine make the Nakiri the opposite - simple, fast and easy to use.
7. Belly / Tsura
The belly of the nakiri is flat and deep once again facilitating vegetable slicing. The depth of the belly also makes it easier for us to rest the blade against your hand which holds the fruit or vegetables. This means you can do rapid movements of the knife up against your holding fingers without the risk of a curved part of the blade slicing into the hand which holds.
8. Tip / Kissaki
We have added a very small tip on the tip of the blade however the Nakri is not really often used at the tip - it’s a chopper not a slicer. The small curvature was simply added to allow the blade to be pulled toward ourselves when you hit the board to finalise a chop.
9. Edge / Hassaki
The edge is the middle section of the blade. For a Nakiri this does most of the work. Due to the lack of curvature to the edge the tip, edge and cutting edge really form one on the Nakiri.
10. Cutting Edge / Kireha
The cutting edge is the part nearest the handle and is the part used when doing heavier chops. Leverage can be maximised by dropping the tip of the Nakiri onto the board and chopping vegetables with the cutting edge (the part nearest the handle).
More Nakiri Knife components to consider....
11. Single Bevel blade
The Nakiri has basically replaced the Usuba which was a single bevelled version of the Nakiri knife. Within Japan both are commonly used however since most of us in the western world prefer double beveled blades (and are more used to them) the Nakiri is the knife to go to if vegetable chopping is your thing.
Nakiri is a surprisingly lightweight tool driven mainly by the narrow spine (under 2mm width) and the half tang handle. Lighter weight means less lifting when you have a job to be done - hence its popularity.
Lastly, what leads you to the Nakiri...
Vegetables and the Japanese history. If you or your friends are vegetarians or vegans or if you like to add fruits and vegetables to your BBQ - this is the blade to add to your tool kit.