Yanagiba | Sushi Knife

Posted by Ramon Elzinga on


Overview:  Yanagiba (in Japanese meaning “willow blade”) is the most popular knife for slicing raw fish and fillets , also known as hobu-bocho (sashimi knife).

This Japanese knife style is used to skin and sometimes scale and de-bone certain fish (for instance salmon).There is a clear difference between using an ordinary knife and a sushi knife during preparation; when you use a normal knife, especially one with a thick and short blade, you will find yourself with uneven fish slices and roughly chopped vegetables. Also when you work with a conventional knife, the rice tends to stick to the edge of the blade and this can be quite annoying while you are preparing your  seaweed rolls.

Traditional Japanese knives are different from western knives in that many types are honed only on one side, the right side. This single side honing allows one to have a much lower inclusive angle when sharpening, so the knife seems sharper and cuts easier.. These chefs knives are sharpened so that only one side holds the cutting edge and the other side remains flat. The flat edge is there so that food doesn’t stick to the knife.The Yanagiba knife is long, very thin and single beveled. The reason for this is that with a longer blade, the cut can be made with a single motion.

This knife is designed to be pulled in one direction in order to sever the cut in one motion beginning at the heel of the knife and finishing at the tip. Pushing is not recommended as this would possibly tear the surface. The knife is used to highlight diferent textures of fish in their techniques:  hirazukuri to pull cut vertically, usuzukuri to pull cut thin vertically, and sogizukuri to pull cut at an angle. The thinness of the blade allows the knife to be pulled with very little force.

With this knife you are able to make clean sashimi cuts and cut cleanly though any seaweed roll (“Maki”)

Another unique quality of the knives is the handle. Traditionally, the handle was shaped with a “D” cross section. This was to make using the knife for long periods of time more comfortable. The handles are made with various types of wood.

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