When it comes to knife making, the Japanese have a long-standing belief of practicality. They value usability, meaning that traditionally the Japanese have made knives according to purpose. A specific knife would be made for every task.
While all of these knives have the same single-edged blade anatomy, they differ in areas of shape, size, and thickness of the blade — all for the purposes of their tasks at hand. Here are the three traditional Japanese knives we recommend that all chefs need for chopping vegetables, fileting and slicing fish:
Sashimi Knife | Cutting and Slicing Fish
Yanagi knives are meant for slicing fish. The blade of the knife is long and very narrow and thin. This allows the knife to gently glide through the flesh of the fish in one long motion, which preserves the texture and taste. If the blade were wider, it would require the sashimi chef to use more force that could potentially bruise and damage the cell walls of the fish.
Filet Knife | Breaking Down Fish
Deba knives are perfect for fileting fish and cutting through bones. The thick spine and weight of the knife allows the chef to cut through the head of the body, as well as other bones, with ease and precision. By contrast, the small point on the tip of the knife is great for separating the flesh from the bone.
Vegetable Knife | Slicing, Chopping, and Dicing Vegetables
Usuba knives are made to comfortably cut vegetables with efficiency and precision. Their tall blade protects the chef’s knuckles, which allows him to move quickly through the vegetable. Kama-usuba knives have a sharp, beak-like tip for more intricate work, as well as a blunt tip for tasks such as removing the eyes of potatoes. It’s heavy enough that it can easily cut through tough root vegetables, but sharp enough that it can also slice through delicate vegetables.