Nakiri vegetable knives are double bevel kitchen knives specifically designed for chopping, mincing, slicing, or slicing your vegetables.
With it's rectangular design and thin blade the Nakiri is ideal for use with all types of vegetables including harder vegetables that would normally crack when being cut. These knives are perfect for all cooks that use vegetables regularly but in particular vegan's and vegetarians.
Spend any amount of time cooking at home, and it is likely that you'll end up preparing vegetables for your meal. Chopping and preparing vegetables can be a time-consuming task, requiring an efficient tool to tackle the job. Japanese Nakiri knives have been revered in kitchens throughout Japan for their ability to effortlessly cut, chop, slice, and dice vegetables.
Nakiri Knives — Uses & Physical Features
Nakiri knives may seem easy to dismiss as akin to a cleaver at a glance, but this simply isn't the case, they are the quintessential Japanese vegetable knife. Designed for use in kitchens both residential and commercial throughout Japan, the Nakiri knife features a body and design that comes from countless years of human craftsmanship, carefully cultivated from one master artisan to the next.
Defining Physical Characteristics
The Nakiri chef knife has physical characteristics effective for working with greens, veggies, and herbs. Let's take a closer look at some of the other integral physical characteristics of a Nakiri knife and what makes them the ideal Japanese vegetable knife.
Double Bevel Design
Nakiri knives have a double-beveled blade that features a sharpened edge that can be manipulated by either the right or left hand. This design coupled with the thin blade allows for easily cutting through denser vegetables such as a daikon radish or carrot. Additionally, utilizing a double-beveled blade makes working with a whetstone even easier.
Flat & Broad Design
The Nakiri knife was created to help chefs work with greens and vegetables. The long, broad, and flat design allows for ease-of-use when implementing rocking, chopping, cutting, and mincing motions. The wide blade allows cooks to prep whole cabbages with ease and the handle clearance allows plenty of room for your hand while working. Easy to work with, it is understandable why the Nakiri chef knife is first up when daikon, cabbage, or other vegetables reach the countertop.
Certain Nakiri knife manufacturers like Sakai Takayuki utilize high carbon steel such as Aogami #2, also known as Blue Steel #2, as well as the more standard option of stainless steel. The high carbon steel offers a supreme sharpness, exceptional for holding its edge, as well as long-term durability. Blue Steel #2 features an ideal grain structure for cutting with minimal impurities throughout. These high carbon knives can be sharpened to a razors edge and will make short work of any vegetables.
Nakiri Knives — Common Slicing Techniques
The Nakiri knife is a remarkable blade that looks deceptively simple at a glance. Long, flat, and exceptionally durable, Nakiri knives were developed with artisan workmanship and a fervent desire to tackle the most common tasks involved in vegetable preparation.
Always make sure to rinse and dry your Nakiri knife after use to prevent build-up and potential damage to the blade.
Exploring the History of the Nakiri Knife
Nakiri knives are also referred to by their traditional name, Nakiri hocho, which means 'cutting greens'. Created with a straight blade edge ideal for cutting through to the chopping board, the Nakiri knives specialize in day-to-day vegetable cutting without the need to push or pull horizontally. The Nakiri is the perfect Japanese vegetable knife and will make a great addition to any kitchen.
While Nakiri hocho knives can be found in professional kitchens the world over, they were brought forth by artisan craftsmen originally for use within the household. Similar in shape and design to a cleaver, the Nakiri knife does not meet the same demands for heavier duty cutting and chopping, such as beef or meat with bones still in it.
Origins of the Handmade Nakiri Knife
Knives and blades have always been considered items of honor in Japanese society, trailing back to the revered handcrafted samurai swords of the 8th century. Understanding that samurai swords were not the ideal kitchen cooking solution, in-house knife makers would start producing the first handmade Nakiri knives, many of which were sourced out of the Osaka prefecture, home of the Sakai city and birthplace of Sakai Takayuki.
Upon reaching the 17th century, Japan would open up its doors to imported knives, allowing Western goods to come and go from the nation. This would propel in-house knifemakers and artisan steelworkers to craft the handmade Nakiri chef knife as we know it today, more than 400 years later. Widely used and still close to its original design, the Nakiri knife offers timeless utility sourced from a region known for its craftsmanship.
Add Handmade Nakiri Knives to Your Collection
Family-owned and operated, Hasu-Seizo specializes in artisan Japanese knives sourced from their family manufacturing facility in Osaka at Sakai Takayuki. Choose a quality, handcrafted Nakiri knife from the Hasu-Seizo collection today.
The Nakiri is a Japanese vegetable knife designed for cutting and chopping vegetables. The blade is thin and deep, ideal for cutting small to large vegetables. The tip of the blade is flat and square, similar to a cleaver.
Japanese vegetable knives are especially useful for shredding, chopping, dicing, or mincing vegetables. In Japan, this type of knife is specifically useful when cutting vegetables such as daikon or carrot into julienne strips, this method is called “katsura-muki”. A typical Nakiri vegetable knife is between 160-180mm (6.3” – 7.1”) in length.
Nakiri was specifically designed for working with vegetables. The blade design allows for precision with both small and large vegetables, in particular, larger items such as cabbage or daikon. The handle is set away from the edge allowing for adequate clearance for your knuckles when chopping or mincing items.
The single bevel design of the Usuba does take some getting used to but can be extremely beneficial when trying to be exact in your cut. However, a Nakiri is more beneficial when slicing through the middle of a harder vegetable, such as a daikon or carrot, as the blade of an Usuba tends to be thicker and may break the vegetable rather than cut it.
If you are interested in the shopping online for an single bevel Vegetable knife check out our Usuba collection here.
Fun tip: For a Japanese vegetable knife with a pointed tip check out the Mukimono, a single bevel variant designed to make precision designs out of fruits and vegetables.
While the Nakiri is designed specifically for working with vegetables, the Santoku is more of a multipurpose knife, useful for vegetables and meats. One of the nice things about having a Japanese vegetable knife such as the Nakiri is that typically the first thing to get damaged on a knife is the tip as they are more prone to breaking. Not having a tip, the Nakiri avoids this issue.
Both knives are useful to have in the kitchen and you will not have any trouble finding each of their strengths. Check out our collection of Santoku chef knives if you would like a slightly more versatile kitchen knife than the Nakiri.
Caring for a Nakiri Knife properly is crucial to guarantee its performance for many years. We recommend that you hand wash your blade with warm water and then dry with a soft tea towel. It should never be placed in a dishwasher, and it should be stored in a dry environment, away from moisture. Periodic applications of Tsubaki Camellia Oil will also help prevent rust and corrosion.
If the knife you are purchasing is high carbon steel, then we recommend wiping off excess moisture immediately after use as they are more prone to corrosion. High carbon knives will have the tendency to form a patina, this is not bad and actually can help protect the blade from rust.
Your blade should also be periodically sharpened with a whetstone; this will provide better quality edge and last longer than an electric sharpener or honing rod.
Looking for an opportunity to add a Nakiri knife to your collection? Hasu-Seizo offers an extensive range of blades crafted by Japanese artisans. We also stock a variety of other vegetable knives and multipurpose knives such as the Usuba, Santoku, and the Petty (for those smaller tasks).
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