What is a Nakiri Knife Used For [Guide to Nakiri Knives]

Outside of the katana, you’ve probably heard of other Japanese blades, like the now wildly popular Nakiri.

That said, you might still be wondering, what is a Nakiri knife used for? How is it different from Santoku knives?

Whether you work in professional kitchens or simply enjoy cooking for your family, you need more than one Japanese-style knife.

Yet, if you have to pick just one, knowing the answers to these questions can help you make the right choice.

Here’s the lowdown on the Nakiri knife and why you should get your hands on one.

What Is a Nakiri Knife?

A Nakiri is a Japanese knife that looks much like a Chinese cleaver. It has a rectangular blade, a flat edge, and a rounded tip.

However, this cleaver-looking knife is not meant for cutting meat.

It sports a thinner blade typically made from stainless steel and designed to make delicate slices of vegetables.

What makes it so effective in cutting all types of vegetables is its long, flat blade and straight edge. It allows you to make more contact with the board.

With this design, you can make up-and-down motions when cutting instead of the usual back-and-forth movements.

Another thing that makes it ideal even for delicate vegetables is that it is very lightweight.

Because of this, it can make quick work of heavy-duty prepping tasks in the kitchen.

This is true whether you are supposed to dice 10 onions for soup or need to cut a bunch of scalloped potatoes.

After making straight slices, you can scoop up the cuts of vegetables using the flat edge blade.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Nakiri Knife?

We’ve given you a sneak peek at the many benefits of using the Nakiri blade, but there is more.

Again, its slim, straight edge is ideal for making thin and even cuts of vegetables.

As you can imagine, this feature will come in handy if you want to decorate your salads or cut herbs into ribbons.

What’s more, you can do your thing with one simple motion.

You do not have to push or pull this specialized knife horizontally, which means less effort on your part.

It would take a shorter time to prep your vegetables, and they won’t stick together as you cut them.

When dealing with soft veggies, you do not have to worry about squashing or damaging them.

The symmetrical blade and straight cutting edge will slice through them with minimal resistance.

In addition, the Nakiri is a double-bevel knife, which means it is inclined on both sides.

Its double bevel edge can make a much straighter cut than the single bevel blade, which requires more skill.

Another thing you would like about this Japanese vegetable knife is that it comes in just the right size.

Its straight blade is usually around five to seven inches long, which is more than enough to handle all types of vegetables.

Finally, you can use the wide blade from tail to tip, making you more efficient in the kitchen.

So, whether you cook in a professional setting or not, there’s no doubt you could benefit from a high-quality knife like the Nakiri.

What makes the Nakiri a hit among knife enthusiasts is that it can turn anyone into a kitchen pro.

All you need is a good cutting board and this Japanese kitchen knife, and you are good to go.

When using the Nakiri for cutting anything, it’s important to remember to make an up-and-down motion.

You do not have to rock the knife back and forth because the straight blade edge will do most of the heavy lifting for you.

It might help if you grabbed the handle close to the blade with your thumb and pointer finger, similar to a pinch grip.

Doing so will make it easier for you to maneuver the Nakiri as you slice and dice away.

Make sure that when you hold the vegetables with your other hand, you make a “claw.”

It helps keep your fingers from getting cut, which is very important because of how sharp the Nakiri is.

After that, clean the blade with soap and water, and dry it with a clean towel or paper tissue.

This step helps keep rust at bay and enhances your knife’s edge retention properties.

The blade of the Nakiri knife is made from a single piece of steel, making it strong and durable. Still, you would want to take good care of it to extend its service life. 

What Is a Nakiri Knife Used For?

At this point, we are ready to answer the question, “What is a Nakiri knife used for?” 

As you may have gathered from our discussion so far, it is a specialist knife meant to chop, slice, dice, or mince vegetables. It also works well on fruits. 

What makes it unique is that it is large enough to slice big pieces and also accurate enough to make precise cuts.

You could chop up your herbs one minute and then mince garlic the next. The tall blade can help you cover a lot of ground in a single downward motion.

That said, it is lightweight and has an ergonomic handle, allowing you to take on more delicate tasks.

However, while the Nakiri is a workhorse in the kitchen, you should not get carried away when using it.

Make sure you do not slice meat or frozen food with it. Its wide blade may look imposing, but it is actually a delicate piece of steel.

If you want to take on heavier tasks in the kitchen, you might be better off with a Santoku knife.

learn what is a nakiri knife used for

What Is the Difference Between Nakiri and Santoku?

The Nakiri and Santoku are two of the most popular Japanese knife types.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it would do you a world of good if you get both.

However, if you have room for just one classic Japanese-style knife, you should get all the information you need before choosing.

Here is a quick comparison between the Nakiri vs Santoku

An Overview of the Santoku Knife

The Santoku is more of a multipurpose knife you can use to cut meat, fish, and vegetables.

It is usually made of thicker Damascus steel, which makes it more durable than the Nakiri. That said, it is usually smaller and easier to handle. 

In addition, the blade is symmetrically ground at an angle of 20 to 30 degrees. It is less steep than the Nakiri, whose sharpness ranges from 28 to 34 degrees. 

In terms of blade shape, the Santoku looks more like a chef’s knife, with a strong contrast to the Nakiri’s rectangular shape.

That’s why, in addition to chopping and slicing, you can also use it for detailed work. You can slice with it using a rocking or up and down motion. 

Finally, the Santoku is generally more expensive than the Nakiri, although not by much. 

Given that it is sharper and more flexible in the kitchen, this is understandable. It is also no wonder why the Santoku is widely accepted by western chefs.

Still, this does not diminish the Nakiri’s value, whether in domestic or professional settings.

What You Should Consider Before Buying a Nakiri Knife

As mentioned, it is better to add both the Nakiri and the Santoku to your knife collection. Doing so will make you become more effective in the kitchen and get more things done.

If you are leaning more towards the Nakiri, this is fine, too. It is a reliable knife that will be very useful if you handle fruits and vegetables a lot. 

Here are a few more things you should consider before heading out to your local store and buying one.

Design

All it takes is one look to see what makes the Nakiri unique: its shape and size. 

While it looks a lot like a meat cleaver, closer inspection will show you it’s meant for more delicate tasks.

The blade is thinner, making the knife much lighter than you would expect.

More importantly, it is easier to handle and control, allowing you to make more precise cuts.

The straight edge is a nice feature, too, since it allows you to slice through your vegetables in one motion.

Its entire cutting edge will make contact with the board, so you do not have to rock the knife back and forth.

Again, you should not let the Nakiri knife’s hefty appearance fool you. 

Do not use it to cut meat or frozen food. Otherwise, you will be left with a dull or even damaged blade that is of no use in the kitchen.

Edge

Another thing you need to remember about the Nakiri is that it has a double-beveled edge. Again, this means the blade is ground on both sides at equal angles.

This feature allows the Nakiri to make straight, balanced slices. It will also be easier for you to create more precise cuts.

The best part is that you will find that this holds true whether you are left or right-handed.

In fact, it is one of its key advantages over single-bevel knives like the Usuba or even some Santokus.

With these types of knives, things would be a bit more challenging since left-handed blades are often more expensive. 

Material

Most knives today use stainless steel, and the Nakiri is no exception. However, that does not mean you have limited options when it comes to material. 

There is still a lot of variability from one brand to another because of the varying carbon content.

Some blades have more carbon than others, making them tougher and more durable.

As a result, they retain their cutting edge longer and require less frequent sharpening. 

That said, note that carbon-heavy knives are more susceptible to rust and corrosion. So, you will have to spend more time and energy on its care and maintenance.

Handle

When shopping around for a Nakiri knife, another thing you should factor into your decision is the handle.

If you work with a lot of slimy food products like okra or ladies’ fingers, you should get one that offers a good grip.

Make sure the level of its performance does not change even under wet conditions.

Remember that things could quickly go sideways if the knife has a slippery handle. This is especially true with the Nakiri, which has a very sharp blade. 

You should also consider comfort when looking at handle designs.

A good knife with an ergonomic handle will help you sidestep hand and wrist injuries from toiling for hours in the kitchen.

Blade Finish

Most Nakiri knives come with a good blade length, so this is something you should not worry too much about. 

However, you do have to consider its finishing.

Some brands are hand-hammered, so the food does not stick to the blade, and the drag is reduced while you are cutting.

A good alternative is the Granton edge, which performs at a similar level.

How To Sharpen a Nakiri Knife

High-quality Nakiri knives are durable, so they retain their edges for a longer period.

Still, no matter how good your blade is, you have to learn how to sharpen kitchen knives eventually.

When you reach this point, it is important to remember that the Nakiri is double-beveled. This means you have to sharpen both sides, unlike most other knives.

If you want to do it yourself, you could use a sharpening stone or an electric sharpener.

Your choice will depend on what is available to you or what you are more comfortable using.

All you will have to do is just work on the beveled edges equally until you are satisfied with the sharpness again.

Another alternative is to take your Nakiri knife to a professional knife sharpener. Once a year is enough for most blades, but it would still depend on your usage.

Get Your Nakiri Knife Now

The Nakiri knife is a must-have, whether you are a vegan or not.

It’s a specialist knife that can help you chop, slice, mince, or handle your vegetable and fruits in any way you want.

Just make sure you get one from a reputable supplier, care for it, and use Nakiri knife only as recommended.

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