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Japanese Knife Guide

American cooks have gone mad for lightweight, supersharp Japanese chef’s knives. F&W tested more than 100 widely available ones to find the best.

Modern Knives

Gyuto

Gyuto

The equivalent of the Western chef’s knife, gyuto means “large meat knife” in Japanese but is a great all-purpose knife for all kinds of chopping and slicing.

Santoku

Santoku

The word santoku roughly translates to “three uses”—designed for meat, fish and produce, the knife is essentially a smaller, more user-friendly version of a cleaver.

Petty

Petty

With a blade that’s usually four to six inches long, this is the Japanese version of the Western utility knife—great for small jobs like peeling citrus and mincing herbs.

Traditional Knives

Deba

Deba

Perfectly designed for filleting whole fish, debas have a sharp point, thick blade and gently curved, single-sided edge (flat on one side and angled on the other).

Usuba

Usuba

Blunt and cleaverlike, with a single-sided edge, this is great for chopping fruits and vegetables. A modern, double-edged version (the sides form a “V”) is known as a nakiri.

Yanagiba

Yanagiba

This long, slender knife is for slicing sashimi. Some Tokyo chefs use a version called a takohiki; the blunt tip was originally created to prevent cutting customers.

More Great Knife Tips & Recommendations:

Published July 2009
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