What is a Nakiri Knife and what is it used for?
Nakiri knives are the classic vegetable knives of Japanese kitchens. The blade, which is usually around 165mm long and rectangular in shape, has a very thin blade thickness. This allows very fine, straight cuts that do not crush the vegetables during cutting. The Nakiri knife is also ideal for chopping vegetables and herbs. The blade width of approx. 50mm is perfect for transporting the cut material directly for further processing into a pot or pan. While the Gyuto knife, Bunka knife and Santoku knife are used as all-purpose knives for fish, meat and vegetables, the Nakiri knife is mainly used for cutting and chopping vegetables.
In Japan, the hand-forged Nakiri knife is widely used as a single and double-edged variant and is also known as the Japanese vegetable knife. The usually high and slender blade is preferably used for quick processing of vegetables and fruits as well as for fine chopping of onions or herbs. Especially for vegetarians, a Nakiri knife is an absolute recommendation, as it can show its strengths optimally in the preparation of vegetarian dishes. Although this Japanese knife resembles the classic Chinese cleaver, it is used in a fundamentally different way. The thin blade is not suitable for cutting bones or hard products, the blade could be damaged!
How to use the nakiri knife correctly
The Nakiri knife is the type of knife best suited for processing vegetables. This is the case for cutting large cabbages, as well as for chopping herbs, coarse and fine dicing of pumpkins, peeling work or fine cutting of carrots into sticks, for example. The Nakiri knife is always the tool of choice! Although the Nakiri knife is mainly seen as a vegetable knife, it is often used more universally. Basically, all softer foods can be processed with the Nakiri knife, in addition to vegetables, cheese, meat, fish, etc. can be easily cut with the Nakiri.
The blade height of the Nakiri knife allows the blade to lean against the knuckles of the other hand when cutting. Thus, depending on the cutting technique, the knife can be guided very safely and precisely. At the same time, the knife-guiding hand can be better placed on the back of the blade and thus the knife can also be guided very precisely. The rectangular blade geometry simplifies the re-sharpening of the blade compared to other blade types.
Nakiri Knife Care
The care of a Nakiri knife depends mainly on the steel used. For example, the high-carbon steels Aogami and Shirogami are more susceptible to corrosion than lower-carbon steels such as ATS-34. So with high-carbon blade steels, be sure to clean and dry the blades after use. Japanese Nakiri knives should be stored dry and never be cleaned in a dishwasher (this advice also applies to conventional Western knives!). Wooden boards and plastic pads are best suited as working surfaces. If glass, stone and marble are used as cutting surfaces, the steel of the Nakiri knife will wear out much faster.
Nakiri Knife Sharpening
The best way to sharpen Japanese knives is by using whetstones. This also applies for Nakiri knives of course. Our robust natural whetstone is suitable for fine sharpening, experienced users of sharpening stones can also use our somewhat more sensitive stones on offer (sharpening stone set professional). These whetstones allow you to bring out the full potential of the Japanese knife steel of a Nakiri knife. Our range of sharpening stones covers all requirements from basic sharpening (somewhat coarser grain of the sharpening material) to fine sharpening (ultra-fine grain of the sharpening stone). Which stone should be used depends on the condition of the blade. If a Nakiri knife has a very worn cutting edge, it is recommended to first make a basic grind, which is then followed by a fine grind. With regular use of a Nakiri knife and equally regular resharpening, it is usually sufficient to use a fine to ultra-fine grit for fine sharpening. In any case, we advise not to use sharpening rods or sharpening steels. These sharpening tools are not suitable for Japanese knife steel and should therefore not be used on Nakiri knives either!
Which Nakiri Knife to buy? What to look for in a Nakiri Knife?
As with all Japanese knives, there are various influencing factors when it comes to the Nakiri knife that ultimately play a role in deciding on the right knife. The right Nakiri knife is always the knife that best suits your own needs. As a little selection guide, you can consider the following aspects:
How often do you use your Nakiri Knife?
The Nakiri knife is mainly used for cutting and chopping vegetables. So depending on how often you cook dishes with vegetables, a Nakiri can make more or less sense. In terms of a healthy lifestyle and perhaps to get more enjoyment and pleasure from preparing vegetables, we recommend a Nakiri knife as part of the basic equipment in the kitchen. With frequent use the used material will wear off, so an excellent quality of workmanship must always be ensured. All knives in our store are made by traditional knifemakers. By ensuring proper care, these knives are very durable tools.
The Sharpness of the Nakiri Knife
As with any cutting tool, sharpness is one of the most important criteria when choosing a Nakiri knife. The edge retention also plays a major role in this context. This parameter determines how long the Nakiri knife keeps its sharpness. As a rule of thumb, high-carbon steels are harder and sharper than steels with a lower carbon content. The hardest and sharpest steels include all Shirogami and Aogami steels. The low-maintenance VG10, AUS10 and Gin 3 (Silver 3) steels offer slightly lower levels of hardness.With the ATS-34, HAP40 and ZDP189 knife steels, the market has been reached by steels that combine the advantages from the worlds of high-carbon and low-carbon steels: Due to their hardness, they offer excellent sharpening potential while being hardly susceptible to corrosion. In our store you will find Nakiri knives with different core steels. Here you should find the right blade for all your needs.
The Look of the Nakiri Knife
Of course, the appearance of the Nakiri knife also plays an important role in the purchase decision. One surely prefers to use a beautiful object than an object that visually does not appeal to you! Decisive for the appearance of the Nakiri knife are the used steel, the surface structure and the finish of the blade as well as the handle. The shape of the blade itself is similar in all Nakiri knives and easy to recognize. Depending on your personal taste, you can find Nakiris with very different looks in our store. For example, we carry the very artfully forged Kisuke Nakiri knives, which are sometimes valued as collector's items by devotees of Japanese arts and crafts. Nakiri knives that are designed for performance and robustness are available as well.
Ergonomics of the Nakiri Knife
As a vegetable knife, Nakiri knives are typically used quite frequently. The ergonomic "fit" - the feeling of safety when handling the knife, is therefore an important point to consider when choosing the right Nakiri knife. Decisive for this feeling of safety when working with the Nakiri is mainly the balance, the handle (or the feel and shape of the handle) and the weight and length of the knife. All our Nakiri knives have excellent balance. This allows the knives to be wielded very precisely and does not exhaust the user. The handle itself is in the end a matter of taste. Some customers prefer natural handles without edges. Other customers prefer lacquered handles that are octagonal in design. Our Nakiri knives feature blade lengths of 165mm and 170m which makes them ideal for use as vegetable knives. With this blade length, large vegetables such as cabbages can be cut, but also smaller vegetables can be cut into delicate strips or cubes. The weight of a Nakiri knife depends largely on the blade steel used.
For example, the Yoshimitsu Blue #2 Nakiri, weighing 149 grams, is significantly lighter than the Kisuke ATS-34 Nakiri, weighing 188 grams.
Ultimately, it is once again a question of personal taste, to which variant of a Nakiri knife one reaches.