Nakiri knives are a type of Japanese vegetable knife that is designed for cutting vegetables. When it comes to Japanese cuisine, specialty knives are often required. As a result, there are quite a few, but due to Japan’s long tradition of sword-making, starting with the famous katana swords, this might have been a problem elsewhere.
In a country such as Japan, where vegetables are favored heavily, it is necessary to use a specialized knife for chopping up vegetables, and the Japanese have several options, such as the Usuba and the Nakiri knives.
Nakiri Knives – What are they?
This knife is called Nakiri in Japanese, which means leaf cutter, and it is highly useful for chopping, mincing, dicing, and slicing vegetables. With its broad, rectangular blade, and a blunt tip that is not pointed and is often rounded, you can easily distinguish it from other blades.
It is also worth mentioning that a Nakiri knife can be used to slice fruits as well as vegetables. Preparing meals in the kitchen or cutting vegetables is a common task. This is why chefs should include the Nakiri knife in their complete knife set.
Santoku and gyuto are rocking cutting techniques and their design will not work for precise cuts. In spite of that, this efficiency provides you with a clean cut every time you cut vegetables or fruits because you are making full use of the whole cutting surface.
Furthermore, the blade of the knife is protected by not having a rounded tip; the tip is what makes contact with the board the first time the knife is used. The edge of the blade would become damaged if it were pointed or squared.
Nakiri Knife Features
Nakiri knives are distinguished by several distinctive characteristics. The main ones include;
Its shape and size
Knives used in nakiri have a long and rectangular shape, measuring anywhere between 120mm to 210mm in length. Although the majority of people prefer the ones measuring 165mm or 180mm, the most popular size is 165mm.
Because of the long length of the knife, it provides the user with excellent knuckle clearance, which makes using the knife a lot more comfortable. Further, owing to its rectangular shape, the knife has a distinct advantage.
That advantage is that even if you are sharpening the blade as you go along, its length remains the same as opposed to knives with curved-edged blades such as the santoku or the gyuto.
The blade is rectangular in shape, and in addition to that, it also has a straight cutting edge. Due to these two features, it is ideal for cutting in a vertical motion up and down.
Furthermore, due to its long length, it is also possible to cut vegetables quickly in a single downward motion because of its length. As a result of its thin blade, it will ensure you have a clean cut without ripping the vegetables.
This large blade length also makes it easy to chop hardy vegetables like tubers and squashes because of its width. Although similar in shape, cleavers are entirely different as they have thicker blades to easily handle heavier work.
Therefore, it is important not to confuse a nakiri knife with one of them. In order to avoid accidentally cutting through frozen foods or bones, it is recommended that you do not use a nakiri.
It differs from its closest relative, the usuba knife, in that it has a double bevelled blade. When the blade is double bevelled, it has two sides that are ground, giving it a balanced cut and giving you acute cuts.
It also enables users to use the knife with either left or right hands, unlike a single bevel knife which will require a different knife for a left-handed chef, often at a greater cost.
Whether you are cutting your food quickly with the handle or with ease, the handle plays a vital role in your comfort and speed of cutting. In addition to this, it also has an impact on the balance of the knife and its aesthetics.
Usually, Japanese ‘wa-handles’ or western style handles are found on Nakiri knives. In order to facilitate sharpening, Japanese nakiri knives typically feature a ‘wa-handle’ type of handle. Additionally, these can also be found in different shapes, such as octagon, D shape, and oval.
It will largely depend on your personal preference how you want to choose the handle, but for safety and comfort, it helps to choose an ergonomic handle.
Advantages of a Nakiri knife
In the kitchen, what are the benefits of using a nakiri knife for cutting vegetables? There are a number of benefits that the nakiri offers, including;
Your slices will be thin and even:
Because of its thin and flat blade, the nakiri knife makes it possible to cut vegetables thinly. Additionally, by purchasing this product you will also be able to achieve consistency in your cuts, giving you even slices, particularly when you want to decorate your salad or make ribbon cuts.
Fast and fluid chopping
In order to cut through the vegetables, you only need to make a simple movement. A horizontal motion is not required, nor do you need to pull or push horizontally.
Besides allowing you to cut vegetables much faster, it also prevents them from sticking together as you cut them, especially when you are cutting onions and celery. In nakiri knives, the flat blade is designed to cut through the vegetables and go all the way through to the cutting board.
It is ideal for delicate vegetables.
Squashing soft vegetables and damaging them is a concern when cutting them. In addition to that, the thing and flat profile of the knife provide you with what you need for making precise cuts on delicate vegetables without damaging them.
It is the right length size for me.
Nakiri knives are usually found to have a length of 5-7 inches. Nakiri is a general-purpose knife with a generous length that allows it to handle even the toughest vegetables and fruits without having to make frequently repeated cuts.
It has a double bevel.
On nakiri knives, the bevels are doubled so they have inclined both ways. As a result, these knives are ideal for veggie cutting since they facilitate straight cuts, which is what you are looking for when looking for a motion that is easy to repeat.
It can be used from tip to tail.
The blade’s entire surface can be utilized, because it isn’t pointed at the end. With the best vegetable knives, you want efficiency and ease of cutting. A nakiri delivers both.
How to choose a Nakiri knife
The best knives for vegetables are nakiri knives, but don’t assume that any you get on the market are good enough. In order to choose a suitable knife, you should take into account several factors, which include the following:
- Type of steel
- Type of handle
- The price
- Blade finish
Generally, you can choose between two types of steel under the type of steel category. In other words, you can choose between carbon steel or stainless steel. These two kinds of steel make knives durable, corrosion-resistant, and hold an edge for a long time.
The advantage of carbon steel knives is that they are easier to sharpen, they hold their edge for a much longer period of time, and they are more durable. In spite of this, they require a lot of maintenance because they are vulnerable to corrosion and rust.
Along with its high durability, stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion and rust, and it is unlikely to chip or crack. However, stainless steel is more difficult to sharpen and will wear out faster.
Compromise means finding high-carbon stainless steel, which is often at a premium price but offers the best of both worlds.
Choosing the handle of the knife is a matter of personal choice and how you intend to use it. If you intend to hold your nakiri knife by the handle, you should select one with a Western-style or shaped handle.
However, you prefer a pinch grip, you may want to consider the traditional Japanese “wa-handle”, which is a traditional Japanese style for handles.
If you’re looking for a good knife, it will depend on your budget, but the best knives will be expensive. When it comes to specialist knives, price is often indicative of quality, so you should expect to spend up to $200 or more on a good nakiri knife. For the best knife within your budget, it is helpful to look for stores with sale or discount coupons.
Lastly, the finish of the blade is important because vegetables tend to stick to knives when they are cut. This problem can be avoided by using a hammered finish, traditionally called tsuchime finish, on the best nakiri knives.
With a hand-hammered finish, cutting becomes more fluid, so you will have fewer problems with vegetables sticking. The Granton edge is also available on nakiri, which has the same effect.
Best Nakiri knives
Nakiri knives are available in several varieties. Miyabi’s 5000FCD Nakiri Vegetable Knife would be a good place to start. On a 17 cm long blade, Damascus steel and traditional Japanese honing are used to achieve a 19° symmetry. It also has a beautiful, sleek design and holds its edge longer.
It is also possible if you want to pick up the Nakiri Chopping Knife from Tojiro Traditional Chopping Knife Series. This knife has a blade length of 160mm and a total length of 300mm.
Handcrafted in Japan, this knife utilizes magnolia wood for the handle, and is made from the finest materials available. Furthermore, the steel used is also a molybdenum-vanadium compound steel of high quality and is polished.
Nakiri knives are among the best knives to use when cutting vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, finding a place to buy them seems to be a challenge for most people.