5 Best Knives for Fileting Fish & Reviews
More than possibly any other ingredient, fish requires special handling. Fish needs to be kept super cold to prevent deterioration and should be cut with the sharpest knife possible to preserve the cell structure and offer the best end result . In this article we will focus primarily on sujihiki, which are the Japanese version of a slicing knife and talk about why they make the perfect filet knife.
How to Select the Best Filet Knife
The main considerations when choosing a knife, filet or any other type, is blade material, stainless or carbon, steel type, blade angle, weight, handle material and length and price. All of these considerations are personal preference, but a good way to narrow down your options. Our guide to choosing a chef’s knife can help walk you through the pros and cons of the choices available. Japanese knives are rigid, unlike the flexible blade of a German or European fish filet knife.
The 5 Best Filet Knives
Here you’ll find a list of our top sellers, which we’ve organized based on a range of user needs. As always get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help you choose a knife perfect for you.
- Kazan Ginsan Nishiji Sujihiki 240mm
- Tojiro Fujitora DP Sujihiki 240mm
- Sakai Takayuki White #2 Kurouchi 240mm
- Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Yanagi 300mm
- Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Three Piece Set
Best Overall - Kazan Ginsan Nishiji Sujihiki 240mm
Hand forged in Tosa from Ginsan (silver 3) stainless steel, with a 240mm long blade. The stainless steel blade and narrow profile cleanly slices through proteins. This line is 50/50 balanced for both right or left-handed use and finished with beautiful octagonal oak wa handles. The high quality 9 inch blade is razor sharp for a lifetime of precise cuts.
Best Value - Tojiro DP Sujihiki 240mm
In every style and shape, Tojiro DP is hard to beat for its exceptional value for the price. This line is crafted from stainless-resistant steel with a VG10 cutting core. They maintain a great edge under professional use and are fitted with Eco-wood ergonomic handles for a non-slip grip and greater water resistance and durability. It’s a perfect beginner’s knife and quality filet knife. They are 50/50 balanced for both right or left-handed use.
Best Compact - Sakai Takayuki White #2 Kurouchi 240mm
A single edged yanagi – this quality blade is crafted by renowned blacksmith Togashi-san exclusively for Chubo. Using the kasumi method of joining a soft iron jacket to a cartoon steel core, the blades then go through additional tempering, cooling and hammering steps to ensure maximum strength and sharpness. The Yasuki White #2 Steel blades are created completely by hand and sharpened on a series of wheels and water stones for optimal out of the box sharpness. The slip-resistant octagonal wooden handles are made from yew wood with water buffalo bolsters.
Best for Large Fish - Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Yanagi 300mm
The kasumitogi line is a reasonably priced line of traditional forged knives which work well for first-time users as well as more experienced chefs. These knives are hand forged from Yasuki White Steel in the kasumi method of joining carbon steel and a soft iron jacket. High carbon white steel knives hold a good edge and are easy to sharpen. This blade length is great for skinning in one motion. The U shaped magnolia handles and water buffalo bolsters are comfortable and easy to grip, even through long hours of kitchen use.
Best Set - Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Three Piece Set
This set contains three traditional single-edged Japanese knives 1) Kamagata Usuba 180mm (7.1") for fine vegetable work / Yanagi 270mm (10.6") for fileting fish and thinly slicing sashimi / Deba 150mm (5.9") for fish butchery.
Filet Knife FAQs
Which is the best fish filet knife? When portioning fish into filets, a suijhiki is a great choice. Chefs and cooks with more experience using single-edged knives will opt for a yanagi for an even greater degree of precision.
What is the best knife for fileting salmon? Knife choice is a personal preference but in this video you can see Chef Hugh Acheson breakdown and filet salmon using a Sakai Takayuki Deba + Yanagi.
What about lithium ion battery-operated cordless or the best electric filet knives? We specialize in handmade Japanese knives, and think the precision they offer can’t be matched by battery-operated knives.
How do I choose a filet knife? Like all knives, you should consider the steel, handle, weight balance and price when buying a new knife.
What are the 2 most common knives used in fish? Japanese culinary tradition relies on two main knives for handling fish. A Deba for butchery that involves bones, such as removing a fish head or taking large portions off the bone, and yanagi for cutting filets and thin portions.
What is the best length for a filet knife? The best filet knife length depends on the size of the fish you are cutting, but most options are between 240 and 300mm.
- What is a Japanese filet knife called? A single edged filet knife is called a yanagi and a double sided knife for fileting fish and other proteins is called a sujihiki.
- What knives do commercial fishermen use? Since commercial operations vary a lot, it's hard to generalize, but most Japanese fisherman or anglers on fishing trips will have a deba for butchery and might have a funayuki, which is similar in shape but more versatile and meant to be used on the go.
What is the best steel for a filet knife? Steel types are very subjective, but generally speaking carbon steel is a good choice because it has the capacity to get super sharp, White Steel especially. Blue Steels have a lot of fans for its toughness. Some people prefer stainless steel because it is easier to maintain. Here’s our guide to the pros and cons of various steel types.
- How are sujihikis different from the filet knife blade of german steel makers like Zwilling, Dalstrong, Wüsthof Classic or Victorinox? German style cutlery boning knives and fish filet knives tend to be more flexible but less hard than a Japanese kitchen knife. A sharp blade Japanese knife will have the most sharp edge and better edge retention.
In summary, when choosing a good filet knife, you want to consider blade angle, and length. The metal the blade is crafted from and whether you choose something carbon or corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Also consider the overall weight of the knife, its balance and handle. Lastly, you want to consider the price of the knife.