How to choose a Nakiri kitchen knife?

Each Japanese knife corresponds to a specific need. Among the most famous are the deba, which spins fish, the yanagiba, which cuts sashimi (traditional Japanese dishes) and the nakiri, which slices vegetables. The latter is the flagship tool for professional caterers, but is beginning to make its way into home kitchens. The market offers a myriad of nakiri knives, making it difficult for consumers to choose. Discover useful tips for finding the right model of Japanese nakiri knife.

Nakiri Japanese kitchen knife

What is a Nakiri knife?

Nakiri Bocho is the full and official name of the Nakiri knife, literally a knife for cutting greens. Its shape varies according to the region of Japan. In Tokyo, the tool takes on a rectangular shape and is called kakagata nakiri. In Osaka, it has rounded corners and is called kamagata usuba. All nakiri knives have one thing in common: the thinness of the blade. The blade is dark in colour, has a straight structure and varies in size. The ambidextrous blade is a double-edged weapon and is sharpened on both sides. Its appearance is similar to that of a cleaver or chopper. This is why users refer to it as a large cleaver.

What is the primary function of this knife?

In the land of the rising sun, the instrument is called a symmetrical geometry knife. It slices vegetables and herbs delicately, without damaging them. The nakiri transforms food :

  • into small cubes
  • into large cubes
  • into half-moons
  • into shavings
  • into strips
  • in slices
  • in strips
  • in sticks
  • as a flower

The blade also peels fruit and vegetables. The metal separates the skin from the flesh without much difficulty.

How much does a Nakiri cost?

The unit price of the Nakiri knife starts at 30 euros. Some tools are available for 80 euros, while others cost 250 euros. You can even find a Japanese knife for 1000 euros! The variation in quality explains this staggering difference. The knife comes with a special sharpener worth 20 to 40 euros.

The quality of the blade determines the price. The sharpness of the metal is measured in Rockwell degrees, a unit for quantifying the hardness of a knife. The blade is expressed in degrees HRC. The value of 55° HRC is the basis of resistance, but an optimal hardness is around 58° HRC. Quality-conscious Japanese knife manufacturers set the hardness of their blades between 58 and 63° HRC. On the other hand, a blade above 64° HRC is so sharp that it becomes brittle. This type of knife is reserved for collectors and requires complex maintenance.

How to choose the best Nakiri?

The choice is based on the design, the materials used and the size of the blade. When it comes to design, your aesthetic preferences and needs will determine your choice. A good finish is a guarantee of a good structure. However, there is no need to dwell on this detail if you are looking for a simple sharpening instrument.

Next, consider the materials of manufacture. Steel is the material of choice for making blades. With a chromium content of 15%, the metal is enriched with molybdenum and vanadium. These elements act like a film and protect the blade against corrosion and impact. Wood is used for the handle. The manufacturers prefer pakka wood, rosewood, beech, rosewood and magnolia because of their strength. Copper and polypropylene resin are also used as manufacturing materials. These materials differ in their ease of handling, with wood being easier to handle.

Finally, measure the dimensions of the blade. The length comes in 16, 17 and 18 cm. An optimal width of 5 cm allows you to carry food from the work surface to the pot. It should be noted that contact between your hand and the board will affect the quality of the cut. Fortunately, a good height of 4 to 6 cm prevents your fingers from grazing the table.

You are now ready to choose your Nakiri kitchen knife.

Other articles on how to choose your knife:

for bread
for cutting sushi
for multipurpose use
for left-handed use
damascus steel
chef’s knife
for cutting fish heads