As an avid cook or a budding chef, you know that having the right equipment in your kitchen can make all the difference in your culinary creations, right?
Unfortunately, it does not end with having all the tools. Knowing how to use the tools you have is what stands you out and showcases your culinary prowess.
Among the vast array of knives available, the Japanese knives stand out for their high performance and knack for precision. Nakiri which is one of the types of Japanese knives is exceptional when it comes to working with vegetables.
However, the uses go beyond that. In this post, we shall look at the various ways or instances where nakiri is used, and how to use it.
What is a Nakiri Knife?
A Nakiri knife is a type of Japanese kitchen knife that features a thin rectangular broad blade that is usually between 6.5 to 8 inches long. The knife also comes with a double-bevel cutting edge which makes it suitable for both new and experienced users.
The traditional nakiri is made from carbon steel, stainless steel or Damascus steel, and features a wooden D-shaped handle. They’re known for their sharpness, excellent edge retention and ability to achieve precise cuts.
Nakiri is similar to Usuba. But while nakiri is double bevel, usuba has chisel-ground cutting edge.
What is the Nakiri Knife Used For?
1. For Chopping Vegetable
Nakiri means “vegetable cutter” in Japanese. Therefore, the original design of the nakiri knife is for cutting, mincing, chopping, and slicing vegetables and herbs. Its broad and thin rectangular blade makes it easy to slice through light and dense vegetables.
2. For Julienning
Nakiri features a long profile with an utterly sharp straight blade. This makes it perfect for achieving precise and consistent julienne cuts. Julienne strips are used in salads, stir-fries, soups, and for garnishing different kinds of dishes.
3. For Peeling Vegetables
Although nakiri is designed for chopping vegetables, it can still be applied to a wide range of tasks like peeling certain fruits and vegetables. It is best suited for vegetables with relatively light and tender skin like carrots, cucumbers, and potatoes.
Nevertheless, a dedicated peeler will be more optimal and safer to use than a nakiri knife. If you must improvise with a nakiri knife, you should pay closer attention to control and safety.
4. For Slicing Fruits
A nakiri is a go-to knife for slicing all types of soft fruits, from tomatoes to kiwis and avocados. Its sharp blade and straight edge allow it to achieve seamless clean cuts, especially when precision must not be compromised.
But for cutting through large and harder fruits like watermelon or pineapple, a specialized knife like a santoku or chef’s knife might perform better. You can use nakiri to slice these fruit into smaller bits afterward.
5. For Cutting Boneless Meat and Fish
Nakiri’s thin blade can easily navigate through the tender cuts of poultry, fish, and any boneless meat. It excels in producing clean and uniform slices. However, it is not intended to handle heavy-duty tasks like cutting through bones, cartilage, or hard joints; A more substantial knife like a boning knife would be a more appropriate choice.
6. For Slicing Soft Cheeses
It’s a no-brainer that you can also use a nakiri knife for slicing soft cheeses like mozzarella and goat cheese. The blade produces neat slices without causing excessive squashing or sticking.
For harder cheeses like gouda, parmesan, or cheddar, nakiri might not give you a top-notch cutting performance. Therefore, a dedicated cheese knife will serve the purpose more efficiently.
7. For Chopping Nuts
If you need to chop nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios, the nakiri knife can help. Nakiri has a sharp blade and supports the push-cut which makes it easy to chop nuts into smaller bits.
What is Nakiri Knife Good For?
It is simple to say that the nakiri knife is designed to excel in various vegetable preparation tasks like chopping, slicing, mincing, and dicing. With its unique features, nakiri is suitable for:
- Precise vegetable chopping
- Making consistent Julienne strips
- Accurate vegetable dicing
- Clean vegetable slicing
- Clean fruit slicing
- Preparing delicate herbs
How to Use a Nakiri Knife
Nakiri is quite easy to use and the more often you use it, the better you become at it. Unlike a chef’s knife which uses the rocking motion cutting technique, the nakiri is designed for a straight up-and-down cutting motion.
Here’s how to use a nakiri knife:
- Hold the knife with a firm yet comfortable grip.
- Then place your index finger and thumb on the blade’s base for control and balance.
- Now, wrap the remaining fingers around the handle.
- Adopt the right stance with your feet shoulder-width apart; place one foot slightly ahead of the other.
- Put the vegetable or ingredient on a cutting board and make sure it is a good cutting board.
- To start cutting, position the blade at a slight angle and use a smooth, consistent up-and-down motion for cutting the vegetables.
- While cutting, be careful and keep your fingers away from the blade’s path to avoid cutting yourself.
One of the best tutorials on how to use this Japanese knife was given by Sharp Knife Shop, and here it is:
Can nakiri knife cut meat?
Although the Japanese nakiri knife is primarily designed for cutting vegetables, it can also perform well for cutting boneless beef, chicken, or pork. Consider getting a heavy duty meat cleaver for handling bony meats if you must.
Is nakiri knife worth it?
Whether or not a nakiri knife is worth it depends on the quality of the one you settle for. Generally, carbon steel nakiri, although a bit pricey, can last a lifetime with proper maintenance. Their performance in terms of sharpness and precision is also commendable.
There are, of course, some decent options made from different kinds of stainless steel. They are also razor-sharp and have good edge retention. A good example is the Shun Classic Nakiri. So, yes, the nakiri knife is worth it if you want to add more class to your set and if you handle vegetables a lot.
- 10 Best Japanese Nakiri for Cutting Vegetables
- 5 Best Japanese Meat Cleavers
- 7 Major Uses of Japanese Santoku Knife
A culinary virtuoso and wordsmith extraordinaire; I am a chef that wields knives and pens with equal finesse. Join me as we explore and find out the best kitchen tools.