Petty Knife

Posted by Ramon Elzinga on


A mainstay of professional western kitchens, the Petty knife is a small general-purpose knife used for peeling, shaping, and slicing fruits and vegetables, chopping herbs, and making garnishes. The petty knife is the knife for smaller jobs that are done on a cutting board. Think slicing shallots, cutting herbs and boning smaller cuts of meat, fish or birds. Petty knives are an essential tool for bartenders who serve fresh fruit garnishes. Petty from the french “petit” or small is an all encompassing term for a doubtle-ground utility knife.

The petty knife is a smaller knife to accompany gyuto for in-hand paring work or for produce at a scale that are much smaller than gyuto. The term "wa-" in some knife titles means it has a handle like this, e.g. a wa-petty is a small knife with a Japanese handle. The knife is thin, light, has little flex and is useful for everything from peeling and pairing vegetables to chopping herbs. Although the blade has a pronounced heel, the whole knife is too small to wrap around your hand in a hammer like grip, so the blade id usually pinched just ahead of the bolster. Light and maneuverable the smaller petty knives work equally well for hand-cutting away from the chopping board.

The compact size and relatively narrow blade of the Petty knife mean that it is very nimble and controllable, thus it is ideal for making precise cuts. Compared to a Western-style handle, the lightweight traditional Japanese handle of the Wa Petty knife moves the balance point of the knife further towards the tip, which makes it feel even more nimble and precise. 

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