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What are the different types of Japanese knives?

Japanese knives come in various shapes and sizes, but they can be broken down into three types: Western-style chef’s knives, traditional Japanese knives, and sushi knives.

Western-style chef’s knives are usually 10 to 12 inches long and have a standard straight blade.

Traditional Japanese knives are generally made from a single piece of steel with a curved blade sharpened on one side. They are usually 8 to 10 inches long and used for slicing vegetables.

 Below are some traditional Japanese knife types listed

Nikari (VEGETABLE KNIFE)

Nakiri Knife
Nakiri Knife

Nakiri knives are the Western-style double-edged version of a single-edged Japanese usuba knife called an usuba. Straight knives like the Nakiri are great for cutting vegetables like julienne, brunoise, and allumette. This is because they have a blade that is long and straight. This is also a good tool for cutting into hard-shelled foods like pumpkins and squash, easy to peel. The length spans from 165 to 180 millimetres, and it is virtually always bevelled twice.

Knives by Usuba

Usuba knife
Usuba knife

Usuba has a chisel-ground blade and a traditional Japanese handle compared to Nakiri. Azumagata usuba or Kakugata usuba (“Kaku” meaning “square”) are lengthier Japanese names for a famous Japanese knife for chopping vegetables, which have been used for centuries in Japanese cuisine. When it comes to the shape of the blade tip, usuba knives can be either rectangular or semicircular.

Usuba knives come in various shapes and sizes, and their different cutting points allow them to be used on multiple vegetables.

Usuba, which translates to “thin blade,” is exactly what it sounds like. An extremely aggressive bevel around halfway up the knife achieves this result. However, like other single bevel knives, these blades have a much thicker spine than their double bevel counterparts. This means that these knives perform best when the bevelled portion of the edge is utilized, but significant wedging and steering occur when the cut extends beyond the shoulder. 

Katsuramuki is a key Japanese chef’s technique to cut paper-thin sheets of vegetables like daikon, sengiri (julienne), brunoise cuts, mukimono, and other knives cuts are all done with this type of knife.

This knife is known as kamagata usuba in Japan’s Kanto region (Tokyo), while in the Kansai region (Osaka and Kyoto), it is known as usuba kamagata. It is the same for both kinds of cutting.

Borning Knives by Honesuki

Honesuki knife
Honesuki knife

Japanese butchers use the Honesuki to cut up meat and fowl. While it lacks the suppleness of a traditional Western boning knife, this one’s sharp tip and heavily uneven grind allow it to glide effortlessly along cartilage and bone to extract as much meat as possible from the animal. Although actual single-bevel versions exist, they are uncommon in Japan because this knife is regarded as a western-style western. The knife should be honed on both sides, with the non-dominant side being sharpened as flat as possible.

Chefs knife santoku(Japan) (Multipurpose knife)

Santoku Multipurpose knife is used for vegetables, fish, and meat. In some areas of Europe, the santoku is also known as santoku-bocho or bukabocho. The knife’s handle might be Japanese or European. The typical length is 165-180mm, and it is virtually always double-bevelled.

DEBA

Deba knife
Deba knife

DEBA is a significant and old Japanese knife for rough jobs. It was made to cut and fillet fish and chicken at first. Most deba knives are between 165 and 210mm long, and they can be up to 9mm thick. They are ground with a chisel and usually have a handle from Japan. People shouldn’t cut through fish or meat bones with Deba knives because their blades can still chip. 

GYUTO chefs knife

Gyuto knife
Gyuto knife

GYUTO chef’s knife is the Japanese equivalent of a Western-style primary kitchen chef’s knife. The main distinction between a Japanese multi-purpose knife and its European counterpart, such as a French or German knife, is a thinner blade. Japanese versions are often composed of more robust steel and are double-bevelled.

 Gyuto knives with European handles are known as gyuto, while those with Japanese handles are known as wa-gyuto. gyuto chef knife was initially used to cut larger chunks of cattle; hence it means a cow sword. Gyuto knives come in various lengths ranging from 150 to 390mm, with the most common being 210-270mm, and the thickness of the blade is typically 1.5-5mm.

Bunka chef knife

Bunka knife
Bunka knife

The Bunka Bano-Bocho design is ideal for various Western cuisines due to its typical usefulness. You can make long or short cuts with this knife’s belly since it has a flat backside and a thin tip for precision work with food. It also has a flexible profile that is wide enough at its handle.

 Choose the Bunka blade type when constructing your first Japanese knife because of its versatility, particularly in Western cuisine. If you want a high-quality knife, whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook, look no further than this list ZDP-189 Bunka is the one for you.

Mukimono japanese chef knife

Mukimono Knife
Mukimono Knife

They are thin-bladed, single-bevel knives used for decorative vegetable cuts called Mukimono. While thinner and shorter than Usuba, these knives have certain similarities in their intended function.

Using the Mukimono is ideal for delicate work that requires an elegant hand because of its thin and short blade.

In comparison to the Kiritsuke, a Mukimono’s blade is significantly straighter. This is because the straight edge of a Mukimono is supposed to cut vegetables in one smooth motion to the cutting board or better aid with Katsuramuki.

Yanagiba single beveled Edge Japanese-style Knives

YANAGIBA single beveled
YANAGIBA single bevelled

Sushi chefs need a Yanagiba with a willow blade as a primary tool. The willow-leaf shape of the blade, rather than a single bevel, is what gives Yanagi its name. 

Sujihiki with a willow shape has been referred to as “Yanagi” by some knife producers. 

Despite this, “Yanagiba” or “Yanagi” generally refers to a single bevelled willow-shaped knife. Sushi was traditionally made with this type of long, thin Japanese knife, and it’s still used for that today.

As a result of its long and narrow blade, it may also be used to chop vast quantities of meat, particularly steaks. 

Together with Deba and Usuba, traditional Japanese knives were historically required to produce Japanese food. These knives are one in a trio of three. 

Sashimi and other delicate slices of soft proteins, such as roast beef, terrines, and patés, are commonly prepared using this tool.

Because of its hollow-ground backside known as the Ura, fish can be quickly released, and a shallow inclusive edge angle is maintained when it is cut. 

Fish slicing with the Yanagi is a Kansai area of Japan tradition (Osaka and Kyoto). Among the many Yanagi variations are Kensaki, also known as kiritsuke-tip, Takohiki (an octopus knife), Fuguhiki (a blowfish knife), and Sakimaru Takohiki (round-tipped octopus knife).

According to several cooks, the 240-360mm long Yanagiba knives are ideal for various jobs in the kitchen that necessitate dexterity.

With a Japanese handle and an exceptionally narrow angle, Yanagiba knives are among the most distinctive in the world. As the knife’s blade resembles an actual willow leaf, the term “Yanagida” is used in Japan.

Fuguhiki

Fuguhiki Knife
Fuguhiki Knife

A typical Yanagiba is shorter in height but not relatively as thin at the spine as a Fuguhiki would be.

Takohiki has a blunt tip that is not meant to be sharpened in its most frequent form, but there is also a Sakimaru Takohiki (curved tip) variety with a more clearly delineated tip area. 

Similarly, the point of a Sakimaru Takohiki is not supposed to be honed. However, the principal performance-related distinctions between the three styles are due to the height and thickness variance. 

Therefore Takohiki will have a flatter profile than Fuguhiki or Yanagiba on average.

For slicing Fugu, the Fuguhiki (Blowfish slicing knife) is a tool that is specifically designed for this purpose.

It is easier to cut with these knives because they’re considerably thinner and shorter than Yanagiba, allowing for a more acute angle that increases sharpness and reduces friction.

However, because of their thinness, these knives are not advised for jobs such as sukibiki that a conventional Yanagiba should be capable of handling. They can, however, be used as an alternative.

Petty kife

PETTY KNIFE
PETTY KNIFE

Gyuto Chef’s knife is a smaller version of the Petty, also known as paring or utility knife, used for various delicate jobs when a bigger knife would be cumbersome. 

A petty knife can be used to peel, pare, decorate, cut away the cores of apple quarters, remove the eyes from potatoes, and do other tasks that require precision. It’s a must-have culinary tool for everyone. Its standard length ranges from 120 to 150 millimetres.

Cleaver Knife

Cleaver Knife
Cleaver Knife

It’s like a hatchet, only a rectangular blade, and a long blade. It isn’t used very often in traditional Japanese kitchens.

In the Western world, it is mainly used as a kitchen or butcher knife and is mainly used to split up large pieces of soft bones and cut through thick pieces of meat.

A thicker blade and softer steel make the knife more durable when used to cut thick meat, dense cartilage, bone, and the cutting board below. More rigid steel or thinner blade might break under a lot of pressure.

For the Torigarasuki Garasuki Knives.

Garasuki Boning Knife
Garasuki Boning Knife

The Garasuki is a larger version of the Honesuki, with a more powerful tool. Suki refers to cutting chicken bones, tendons, and offcuts.

Because these knives are often larger and heavier than Honesuki while retaining their sharp tips and hand-biased bevels, they can pierce through bone while still slipping into joints and riding along with bones.

Garasuki is the knife of choice for professionals who have a lot of work to do when chopping up chickens and turkeys.

To trim the tendons and skin off other land proteins and to butcher smaller fish like Kisu, Kohada, Masu, Akamutus, and other similar species.

FAQ SECTION

What knife do Japanese chefs use?

In Japan, a chef’s knife is a fundamental tool, and Japanese chefs use a variety of knives to cut ingredients in their dishes. But one, in particular, stands out: the usuba knife. For most Japanese cookery, the usuba can be used as a general-purpose knife which is perfect for slicing vegetables into thin strips or small pieces.

What are Japanese paring knives called?

The Japanese term for a knife is “hocho.” A chef’s knife is a fundamental tool and Japanese chefs use a variety of knives to cut in. For example, the traditional paring knife (which can be called a “santoku” or “basashi”) has a 3-4 inch blade and an oval handle, which makes it perfect for peeling, coring and slicing.

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