Hi, my name is Josh Melara. I started working here at JKI back in February. You might have seen me in the back or I might have even helped you out in the shop if you’ve come in since then. I come from a butchering background, having butchered for supermarkets, restaurants, and butcher shops in LA.
I’ll be writing the blog entries from time to time. I hope you enjoy them.
Japanese Butchery Knives: Shapes and Functions
In the world of Japanese knives, each blade shape fills a specific purpose. Interestingly, many of them revolve around the butchering of either seafood or livestock. Whereas most kitchen knives are made to be thinner in order to achieve higher cutting performance, butchery knives are usually thicker at the spine and behind the edge. This serves the function of making the blades more tough and durable, being that they will be making contact with bone from time to time.
Deba - Exclusively used to fillet fish. Hefty and very thick at the spine, they need to hold up to contact with fish bones. Single bevel.
Yanagiba - Used to slice fish. 270mm to 300mm is the usual blade length. The longer the blade, the easier it is to complete a slice in a single stroke. Single bevel.
Gyuto - Generally used as a chef’s knife. Some makers use a more tough and durable steel when creating gyuto for butchery series (the can also be called Hirakiri in butchery series). They usually have a taller profile than a sujihiki. Double bevel.
Sujihiki - General meat slicer. It has a less tall profile than a gyuto and a shape that is very similar to a yanagiba. Double bevel.
Hankotsu - Breaking/boning knife for livestock. The last third of the knife, by the handle, is unsharpened in order to scrape against bone without sacrificing the edge on the sharpened portion. This knife can also be called honesuki maru or Nishigata hankotsu. Double bevel, but highly asymmetrical.
Honesuki - Breaking/boning knife specifically for poultry. The triangular shape is tailored to breaking down and deboning an entire chicken carcass. Videos on youtube show just how well designed and effective these knives are. Double bevel, but highly asymmetrical.
Kawahagi - Skinning knife for larger livestock animals. Double bevel.
Atamatori - Long, curved knife for beheading larger livestock animals (lambs, pigs, cows). Also comes in smaller sizes, sometimes used for chicken. The smaller one is sometimes called kashiratori. Double bevel.
Leave a comment
Welcome to Japanese Knife Imports, Inc.
We are a small company of passionate knife dorks, focused on making high quality Japanese knives from small makers available to you, outside of Japan.