Traditionally Japanese knives are made to perfectly execute a specific skill in the kitchen. Some cut fish, some cut meat, and considering the high volume of vegetables in Japanese cuisine, there are several options that are perfect for that job. Here are some of the basics on Japanese vegetable knives’ history and their use.
The usuba, which means ‘thin-blade’ is a single-edged, vegetable cleaver with either a square tip, or rounded in the case of the Kamagata style usuba. This knife was made for the extreme precision required for preparing vegetables in the Japanese culinary tradition. In addition to cutting vegetables extremely well, the usuba can be used for decorative cuts such as katsuramuki which creates paper thin sheets of a vegetable such as daikon radish or cucumber.
With its broad blade and flat edge, the Nakiri blade is one of the best at slicing, dicing, and chopping vegetables. Nakiri are very easy to use and commonly found in home kitchens throughout Japan. Nakiri are generally 50/50 balanced and are the perfect tool to cut hard vegetables like squash, pumpkins and potatoes.
The Bunka’s blade is square and sharpened on both sides, similar to the nakiri, but slopes to a point at the front. A multi-purpose knife, it can also be used on meat and fish, but it offers excellent precision when cutting vegetables such as green onions and chives. The slanted tip offers another cutting surface to crosshatch softer vegetables like eggplant and oyster mushrooms.
For a quality Japanese vegetable knife, you can choose from our extensive collection at the Chubo Knives online store. Whether you are looking for an usuba, nakiri or bunka, we have options from top Japanese knife makers.