Japan, during the Edo era (1600s-1860’s).
Blade Length & Width
Usually 5-7” (120mm-180mm), with 7” (180mm) being most common. Width is 1.5-3mm. Traditionally a thinner knife if preferred.
Although the Nakiri has the appearance of a cleaver or ‘cai dao’, its function is quite different. Nakiri translates to ‘greens-’ or ‘vegetable-cutter’, a reference to the leafy greens it is designed to cut. Its rectangular shape, flat-edge and thin spine allows you to make straight, precision cuts of vegetables, leaves and herbs.
The origin of the Nakiri can be traced back to the Tokugawa Era of seventeenth century Japan, when it was ruled by a military dictatorship (Shogunate). At the time, the eating of any four-legged animal was strictly prohibited, so seafood and vegetables dominated the cuisine. Japanese households of that time used two knives; the Nakiri (or Usuba) for vegetables, and the Deba knife for fish.
Tips When Using the 'Nakiri'
It is important to keep in mind the intended purpose of this knife. Unlike the Gyuto or Petty, the Nakiri is designed to excel in one area; vegetables. The thin width and flat blade is designed to cut directly downwards, allowing the knife to rest in full contact with your chopping board after cutting through the ingredient. Some regional variations include a small rocker (or up-curve) at the tip to prevent the knife “biting” the cutting board and to leverage the knife downwards on larger ingredients from tip to heel.
Extra tip: any vegetable longer or larger than your Nakiri should be cut using a Gyuto. These vegetables tend to be tougher and more fibrous, so benefit from a thicker, more robust knife to cut them.
If you want to add a Nakiri to you knife collection you can see what we have available here - Nakiri Knives.
Background Art by Yayoi Kusama
Knife Designed by S. L. Dolman | Koi Knives, SA