So you've finally decided to try a Japanese fish knife. Why not? Japanese knives have earned a reputation for being the finest culinary tool because of their functional form, elegant design, and exceptional artisanal craftsmanship. It's not only a dependable kitchen helper, but it is also a must-have item for avid knife collectors.
The problem is there are various types of Japanese knives, so it's hard to figure out what you really need. Let us not even mention their hard-to-remember names in Japanese, such as deba, gyuto, petty, and nakiri.
If you’re a first-time buyer, it would be challenging to find the right Japanese knife for you. That's the reason we made this article. First, we will give a short introduction to the different types of Japanese knives. Then, we will review the best knives you can buy online and discuss how to keep your knife in good condition.
Look at the picture above. Can you tell us which is a butcher knife or a fillet knife?
We told you it’s hard. Unfortunately, Japanese knives are so diverse that you might end up buying the wrong blade. But don't worry because we will discuss only the types that are essential in your kitchen.
- Gyuto is an all-purpose type of Japanese chef’s knife. It is similar to a European chef's knife, but it is much thinner and lighter. Gyuto, which means “cow sword,” is primarily useful in cutting meat or beef.
- Deba or deba bocho is a Japanese butcher knife that can easily cut through the bones of a fish. You can also use it to gut and descale a fish. It comes in three different sizes: kodeba (3.5–4.7 inches), hondeba (8.3 inches), and mioroshi deba (7.1–10.6 inches).
- Nakiri is a Japanese chopping knife that looks like a Western-style cleaver. However, you can't hack animal bones with it. Nakiri is only for peeling, cutting, and slicing vegetables. It can flawlessly execute complicated culinary cuts such as brunoise, julienne, and allumette.
- Petty is the equivalent of Western utility or paring knife, and you can use it to peel fruits and vegetables. You can also use it to style foods for presentations and garnishes. It resembles a gyuto knife but is smaller.
- Sujihiki is a Japanese fillet knife that can work on poultry, meat, and fish with ease. Its blade is long but thin with a double bevel. It can function as a carving knife, but it isn't suitable for cutting bones.
- Yanagiba, which has a moniker of “willow blade,” is the katana of Japanese kitchen knives. You should use this blade when making sushi. That's why it is also called a sashimi knife. Sujihiki is also a good substitute for this knife in case you have already exhausted its use.
The illustration does not include one other knife, but it is worth mentioning. It is called the santoku, which consists of two Japanese words: san (“three”) and -toku (“virtue”). It is a multipurpose knife used for fish, vegetables, and meat, thus the name. Santoku can be your “starter knife” if you are new to Japanese cutlery.
7 Best Japanese Fish Knife Reviews
Are you now set to purchase a Japanese knife? Here are some of the best choices.
You know that it is the best Japanese fish fillet knife if it takes over 60 days to craft it. DALSTRONG Shogun Series fillet knife is a six-inch full-tang blade and has a scalpel-like sharpness made from AUS-10V super steel with 67-layer Damascus cladding and 62+ Rockwell hardness. Its ergonomic handle comprises military-grade G-10 material and can withstand cold, heat, and moisture.
Some users complain that the knife isn’t flexible enough and the handle is a bit heavier than normal.
Yoshihiro Shiroko high-carbon steel Kasumi is a deba blade specially made for fish butchery. Its single-bevel blade is made from second-grade white steel (shiroko) with high carbon content. It scores 63 HRC in Rockwell hardness, and its handle is a pure round-shaped shitan rosewood.
Yoshihiro Shiroko is not ideal for newbie chefs or simple households with limited budgets. In addition, it is not made from stainless steel, so expect rusting and discoloration.
The blade composition of TUO nakiri knife, which is under the Fiery Phoenix Series, is forged high-carbon German stainless steel with cryogenic nitrogen tempering for extra strength. TUO nakiri knife comes with an elegant pakkawood handle that has an ergonomic form. As a result, it can effortlessly chop veggies without damaging them.
It can’t hold an edge for long, which means you need to sharpen this knife regularly. Also, take note that this is not a full-tang blade, so expect a bit of movement between the handle and the blade.
If you're on a budget but don't want to sacrifice quality, then grab this sleek and formidable Kessaku Samurai Series santoku knife. Its high-carbon stainless steel blade is as sharp as a surgeon's scalpel. Moreover, the food you’re cutting won’t stick to the blade, thanks to its Granton edge. Its pakkawood handle has a comfortable grip and will never slip from your hands.
You can buy the Kessaku Samurai Series santoku knife directly from Japan.
One of the common complaints about this knife is its Damascus design. It is not the real deal, only lasered on the blade.
KYOKU Samurai Series yanagiba knife is a kitchen powerhouse with high-quality materials and superb artistry. It's made of Japanese high-carbon steel and treated cryogenically using the traditional three-step Honbazuke method. It has a durable and ergonomic wenge wood handle that promotes a firmer grip to prevent it from slipping from you.
KYOKU Samurai Series yanagiba knife is not for cutting small fish since its blade length is 10.5 inches.
Yoshihiro Gyuto Japanese Chef's Knife
Yoshihiro gyuto is one of the versatile Japanese chef's knives out there. Its full-tang blade consists of a VG-10 Japanese stainless steel hammer-clad with 16 layers of Damascus steel for extra durability and strength. Yoshihiro gyuto's ergonomic handle is handcrafted like its blade, and it is made from fine mahogany.
For such an impressive knife, it doesn’t come with a saya cover.
Small but terribly efficient is the apt description for the Misono UX10 Series petty knife. Its blade is made of high-grade Swedish rust- and stain-resistant steel alloy. In addition, it has a full-tang construction and a water-resistant pakkawood handle.
Misono UX10 Series petty knife is a general-purpose paring knife that you can use for shaping, peeling, and slicing fruits and vegetables.
If you are left-handed or have large hands, this knife is not for you.
A Japanese knife requires extra TLC because of its delicate form and construction. Here are some tips on how to care for it.
- A Japanese knife doesn't belong in the dishwasher because detergents and other chemical substances could damage it. Instead, clean it using a mild soap and a soft sponge. Then, right after cleaning, dry it thoroughly. In this way, the blade won't rust, and its handle won't rot.
- Stick to the Japanese knife’s function. For example, don't use a yanagiba blade to cut poultry and meat.
- Avoid using hard cutting boards because they can chip or dull the knife.
- Sharpen your knives regularly to maintain their optimum condition. Also, use whetstones, not a honing rod.
We hope this guide will help you in choosing your very first Japanese fish knife.
First, you should identify which type of knife to buy according to where and how you will use it.
Then, remember that each blade has a designated function, so be very meticulous in your search.
Lastly, even though expert artisans made your Japanese knives, you must regularly check their condition and clean them after use to maintain their tip-top shape. That way, you can extend its service life and pass it to future generations.