What is the Best Sushi Knife?

Want to make beautiful (and delicious) sushi?

It's clear, many of us are drawn to the alluring and delicious aspect of sushi.

But even though we're big sushi lovers, we're often terrified of making it ourselves. For us, sushi is a completely foreign form of culinary art, a dish that only highly skilled people can try their hand at preparing.

We are far from suspecting that making your own sushi, even if it presents a number of challenges for the uninitiated, is far from an unattainable dream. All you need is a little preparation, the right ingredients and... most importantly... the right utensils.

Why a sushi knife?

Of course, you could try making sushi with the knives you already have at your disposal - your usual chef's knife, paring knife, etc.

But when it comes to tackling something as meticulous as sushi, or a preparation that requires such precise cuts as sashimi, you absolutely must avoid ending up with unsightly cuts and results. . And maybe also with a lot of waste.

Japanese knives have the particularity of being specific to each task. There are knives, such as the Yanagiba, which are specifically for slicing sashimi. Others, like the Nakiri, are designed primarily for cutting vegetables. Having the right knife for each task will allow you to achieve the best results. (but don't worry, there are also versatile knives that are very suitable for preparing sushi - we'll get to that).

Okay, so why do you need a good sushi knife?

Sure you can buy a cheap knife for a few bucks, but that's not really the best thing to do when it comes to kitchen knives - not just sushi knives. Buying a A cheap knife may seem appealing in the short term, but you'll end up in an expensive vicious circle where you continually wear out or damage poor quality blades and then buy other poor quality blades to replace them.

It is clear that you will have a hard time cooking properly with these inefficient blades. And if you try to cut sashimi with a poor quality blade, you will get a messy and not very attractive result. Not to mention that a cheap, dull blade is a safety hazard...

Cooking any dish - let alone something as precise and beautiful as sushi - should be a calming process. Something you look forward to, not something you have to do with pain and difficulty. That's why we always advocate getting the best utensils available - because it will make these tasks so much easier, more enjoyable and less time consuming.

Simply put, you need the right tools to do a good job. A good Japanese knife will not only make things easier and more enjoyable when cooking, but it will also allow you to offer a better dish to the person for whom it is intended.

The advantages of having a good sushi knife:

  • Specially designed knives for slicing fish and vegetables result in a much higher quality and more visually appealing end product.
  • High carbon stainless steel blades ensure long lasting durability and sharpness.
  • Sturdy, ergonomic handles make it easy to use the knife for long periods of time.
  • A variety of sizes, weights, and blade styles let you choose the sushi knife that's best for you and meets your goals.

The consequences of a bad knife:

  • Sushi is all about precision, the ingredients have to be cut and arranged in a certain way, and if you use the wrong knife, you'll end up with a poor quality end product.
  • Sushi presentation is extremely important, and you need the right tools to make your sushi look great.
  • Cheap blades won't retain their sharpness for long, which also poses a risk to your safety.
  • Low quality grips are uncomfortable and come off easily.
  • If you buy a cheap and poor quality sushi knife, you will have to buy another one very quickly. A high quality product will last much, much longer.

The different kinds of sushi knives

There are many types of Japanese sushi knives on the market, with their own particularities. As part of this article, we are going to look at a number of Japanese knives that can be used to prepare sushi. Below we have highlighted some of their main features.

The Deba knife: Deba knives are the more traditional Japanese knives, with a single bevel. They are heavy, with a thick back that facilitates uses for butchering and filleting fish or poultry. There are several sizes depending on the piece to be cut.
The Kiritsuke: The kiritsuke knife is a traditional Japanese knife whose tip is angled a bit like swords. It is very versatile and can be used either as a utility knife or more specifically as a sashimi knife. In many Japanese restaurants, only the head chef is allowed to use it. The kiritsuke knife is therefore often seen as a symbol of expertise and high status.
The Nakiri: Nakiri knives are the western double-edged equivalent of a Japanese single-edged usuba knife. Their straight blade makes them perfect for precision cuts of vegetables such as julienne, brunoise, etc. They are also very practical for cutting hard-skinned foods such as squash or pumpkins.
Santoku: Santoku means "three virtues" in Japanese. This is the knife's ability to cut meat, fish, and vegetables alike. Santoku knives are versatile knives, which have a flatter body and can be used comfortably for an up and down chopping motion.
The Yanagiba: Yanagiba sushi knives are primarily used to cut boneless fish fillets for sashimi and sushi dishes, but they can also be used to cut fish fillets. They are also often used to butcher fish. The narrow blade and sharp angle of the cutting edge make them perfect for cutting through food effortlessly.
The Sakimaru: It is a variant of Yanagiba and is used for much the same purposes. The tip of its blade is more like that of a katana.

Things to consider when choosing your sushi knife.

Not all knives that can be used to make sushi are created equal. Not only are there different types of Japanese knives (see above), but there are also a variety of factors to consider for each one. Here we will cover some of the criteria you should use when looking for your knife.

The blade

The blade is the essential part of a knife. Make sure the knife you buy is the right one for the job, which involves using high quality materials. Accuracy is key when it comes to sushi, so it makes no sense to buy a cheap product made with low quality materials.

Ideally, your sushi knife should have a high carbon stainless steel blade. It will resist corrosion and stains on the blade, and its cutting edge will be ruthless. Of course, you should be sure to clean and dry the blade after use to avoid any unwelcome corrosion from water.

The size

You will find variations in blade length depending on the type of Japanese knife you purchase. Yanagiba knives, for example, tend to be longer, usually between 22 and 26.5 cm. Santokus and Nakiris tend to stay within the 15-18cm range, with exceptions. Take stock of what you will be using your knife for and choose a length based on that.

Ergonomics and quality of the handle

The part of the knife you have the most contact with is the handle, so it's important that it's both secure and comfortable. You should look for ergonomic handles and premium materials. A wooden handle is most common on Japanese knives.

Our best sushi knives

Kiritsuke Knives:

kiritsuke knives for sushi
Nakiri Knives:
nakiri knives for sushi
Santoku Knives:
santoku knives for sushi
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Frequently Asked Questions

Among the Japanese knives, which is the most versatile?

The Kiritsuke knife is the most versatile. It can be used as a chef's knife. However, the fact that it's three knives in one also means that there are some compromises, which makes it a bit unsettling the first few times (which is why in Japanese kitchens it doesn't). is handled only by the chef).

A good alternative isthe Santoku knife , which is very versatile (its name translates to "three virtues") without being unwieldy.

How many Japanese knives do I need?

Japanese knives are specific to different tasks. Most chefs will have a wide variety of knives. But if we had to choose three, it would be the Santoku, Deba and Nakiri knives. The Yanagiba knife is also ideal for precision cuts for sashimi. Deba is perfect for butchering and filleting fish, and Nakiri is perfect for vegetables.

What is the best sushi recipe?

What's the point of having a sushi knife if you don't know how to make good sushi? We have written a full article on how to make sushi which you can read.

How to sharpen your sushi knife?

Sharpening any knife is important. Not only will this allow your knife to work better on your food, but it will also make it easier and safer to use. And when it comes to sushi knives, especially types like Yanagiba knives that are designed for precision cuts, this is especially important.

Always follow the instructions for use, maintenance and sharpening. To find out how to sharpen a knife, see our detailed explanation .

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