The Nakiri knife is a Japanese-style knife mainly used to chop, mince and slice vegetables. It can also be used on fruits. It has a broad, straight-edged blade with a square tip, and can be confused for a mini Chinese Cleaver, but it is thinner and lighter.
It also can't be used to cut hard materials like meat bones. Here is everything you need to know about the Nakiri knife and its uses.
Nakiri Vs Usuba
The Usuba knife is very similar to the Nakiri knife, and if you don't know the main differences between them you would actually think they're the same knife.
Like the Nakiri, the Usuba is a Japanese- style knife with a square tip and a straight edge. However, it is a single beveled while the Nakiri is double beveled. Its blade is also thicker and heavier, and it can be longer than the Nakiri.
The Usuba can be used for more delicate work due to its single beveled edge. The Usuba is mostly used by professional chefs, while the Nakiri can be found in most home kitchens.
The Nakiri has a number of advantages that make it great for cutting vegetables. Some of these are mentioned below.
- It has a flat blade so it can make really thin and even slices. This makes it great for making vegetable ribbons.
- Nakiri knives are generally long, which makes them ideal for most vegetables.
- The flat blade allows you to cut right through the veggie to the cutting board, giving really clean cuts. You don't get pieces of veggies with little threads hanging on to them.
- Nakiri knives can handle delicate veggies well without squishing them.
- The straight edge of the Nakiri allows you to chop vegetables without needing to 'rock' the blade.
- The broad blade of the Nakiri protects your knuckles from hitting the cutting board when cutting.
The Nakiri's rectangular blade ensures that it doesn't shorten in length due to constant sharpening, unlike other knives that have the triangular blade.
Example 360 degree shot of a Miyabi 5000FCD Nakiri Vegetable Knife 17cm.
Points to Consider When Buying a Nakiri Knife
When buying a Nakiri knife, there are a number of things you need to consider for a good quality knife:
The Material of the Blade
Modern knives are mostly made of stainless steel. Stainless steel has varying quantities of carbon and can be low carbon or high carbon.
Low carbon blades get dull faster and require sharpening more often, while high carbon steel blades are harder, retain their edges longer, and require less frequent sharpening.
The Blade Finish
The blade finish can affect details like whether or not food sticks to the blade during cutting. Many good Nakiri knives have a hand-hammered finish to avoid this.
Other knives make use of a Granton edge for the same effect. A Granton edge is an edge that has hollow indentations along the side of the edge of the blade. These indentations form air pockets between the food and the knife, reducing friction and consequently preventing food from sticking to the blade.
High carbon steel blades last longer and tend to be more expensive than low carbon steel blades. A relatively good quality knife would cost between $100 and $200.
The Knife Handle
A good knife handle should be strong, water-resistant, and comfortable to hold while cutting. This is important as a slippery handle could result in injuries or lead to discomfort which can affect the quality of the cooking.
The Blade Length
The blade of the Nakiri knife should be long enough to cut most vegetables. Aim for at least a 5''long knife.
Now you've seen all you need to know about Nakiri knives. We have included a few examples of Nakiri knives below.
This is a typical Nakiri knife with a square tip and a straight edge which allows you to cut without needing to use a push and pull motion. The knife has a seamless transition between the handle and the bolster, which ensures hygiene as there won't be food getting stuck in the gap in between.
The knife has a perfect blade-handle balance for a great and comfortable cutting experience. The blade is formed with 49 layers of damascus steel with approximately 61 Rockwell hardness.
The steel is extremely hard and sharp, guaranteeing long edge retention. Finally, the handle is of black Pakkawood, which is comfortable to use and water-resistant for extra durability.
This traditionally handcrafted blade features a VG10 steel core with an outer layer of 13 chrome stainless steel and a Rockwell hardness of 60-62.
The blade has a hammered finish to prevent food from sticking to the blade. The handle is made of traditional Japanese magnolia wood which fits perfectly in the hand and is water-resistant.
Like all Shun knives, this knife combines traditional handcrafting techniques with modern technological knife-making processes.
It's hard, the razor-sharp edge can handle any type of vegetable, from cleanly slicing soft tomatoes to cutting up squashes. The blade has indentations along it to reduce friction and prevent food from sticking.
The handle is ergonomically designed for comfort and is made of water-resistant Pakkawood infused with resin.
This knife has a super ice-hardened blade featuring a 63 Rockwell hardness with long edge retention.
The blade features a Micro Carbide MC63 powdered steel core surrounded by 100 layers of two types of steel with differing hardness. This results in a sleek flowered Damascus pattern that is beautiful to look at.
The knife is honed in the traditional 'honbazuke' technique to give a 190 symmetrical blade with incomparable sharpness. The Birchwood handle is D-shaped for maximum comfort when cutting and its warm tone contrasts well with the cool blade.
A good Nakiri knife is a must-have in the kitchen. You can use any knife to chop and slice your veggies, but if you're really interested in good cooking, you can't do without the Nakiri.
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