Japanese Knife Templates

Japanese Yanagiba and Takobiki kitchen knife template

Yanagi-ba (literally "willow blade knife") and Takobiki (literally "octopus slicer") are typical of Japanese sushi and sashimi knives. The long blade is designed to produce thin, even cuts of meat. Unlike Western knives, this blade is designed to be pulled toward the user during the cut.

The long, thin blade cuts meat in a single-pull stroke without any back-and-forth motion. This prevents zig-zag cutting, giving a cut surface that is very smooth. The back face of the blade has a slight hollow grind that peels the meat apart as it is cut to prevent bruising or loss of juices.

In Western Kitchens, this knife excels as a carving knife. The smooth-faced slices of meat it creates retain more juices and have exceptional flavour. Takobiki are much the same geometry as Yanagiba, with the exception of the square tip so as to avoid damaging octopus during food preparation.

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Japanese Unagisaki kitchen knife template

Unagisaki are a Japanese kitchen knife used to fillet eels and they are useful as utility knives in Western kitchens. Specifically, these designs are Kanto Unagisaki hocho.

Chefs of the Kanto region are traditionally reluctant to fillet eels via the belly due to the association of slicing the belly with seppuku and the honour of the Samurai warriors.

Thus, Kanto eel knives feature a particularly strong tip and heavy secondary bevel to make filleting cuts through the spine of the eel. This is substantially different to eel knives from other parts of Japan where slicing through the belly of an eel is the norm.

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Japanese Santoku kitchen knife template

Santoku (literally "three virtues") are a Japanese kitchen knife that lives up to their name. They are a high performance design that specialises in chopping, slicing, and mincing tasks.

The blade geometry is specialised to the Japanese way of performing these three tasks, and it will require a brief period of time to become familiar with the cutting techniques this requires. For cooks willing to take the time to perfect their technique, this blade will reward them with superior results than that available from western cutlery.

Santoku are lighter than Gyuto and western chef knives, which means less hand strain and quicker cutting. These knives are exceptionally good at very thin slicing. Take care not to use a rocking motion, but rather chop down in one motion. With practice this is quicker and more efficient, whilst achieving far superior results.

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Japanese Petty kitchen knife template

Petty are Japanese utility knives that range in size from almost as big as a Western chef knife down to paring knife size. In Japanese kitchens they are typically used as a complimentary knife to the Gyuto, a much larger knife, for paring or work with smaller produce.

Petty are ideal for small, delicate work that a chef's knife can't handle such as delicate produce and herbs, small fruits and vegetables. However, given their size is somewhere between a large paring knife and a small chef knife they also make an excellent day-to-day knife.

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Japanese Nakiri kitchen knife template

The Nakiri (literally "knife for cutting greens") is a Japanese kitchen knife with a thin blade for cutting vegetables without pushing or pulling.

The thin, straight blade cuts all the way to the cutting board in one vertical motion without breaking ingredients. Typically, the knife has a slight chisel grind on the front side, and a hollow grind on the back. This clamshell grind peels the ingredient apart as it is being cut, creating a very fine surface on cut ingredients.

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Japanese Honesuki kitchen knife template

Honesuki are a Japanese boning knife with a distinctive triangular shape and a stiff blade with very little flex. The Honesuki specialises in deboning poultry and cutting through soft joints.

In Western kitchens, this knife excels at boning lamb. The blade geometry and ergonomics make for a knife that will clear the tightest spots and allow you to butterfly a leg of lamb in a heartbeat. Ideal for all manner of boning and fine butchery tasks.

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Japanese Gyuto kitchen knife template

The Gyuto (Japanese, literally 'Beef Sword') is a post-WW2 design seen in response to the introduction of western cuisine to Japan. It is a professional chefs knife that can be used for mincing, slicing, and chopping vegetables, slicing meat, and disjointing large cuts.

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Japanese Deba kitchen knife template

Deba (literally "pointed carving knife") is a Japanese kitchen knife that is traditionally used for cutting fish and also saw use working with other meat.

In Western Kitchens the chisel grind and tall blade make this a heavy-duty utility knife that is well suited for working with meat and excels at rapidly chopping or slicing smaller ingredients.

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