August 31, 2021 3 min read
Do you slice fish? You need a Yanagiba. Do you not slice fish but are interested in possibly slicing some fish? Fish-curious, perhaps? You need a Yanagiba. Do you collect knives? You. Need. A. Yanagiba.
I'm a fanagiba of the yanagiba!
This is it - this is the most iconic Japanese knife shape. Look no further. The Yanagiba is a sleek and pointy knife that specializes in the preparation of Sushi! If you’ve ever been to a Sushi restaurant where you can see the cooks, this is the knife that they’re using about 90% of the time. Let’s take a closer look at one!
So how does it work!? A Yanagiba is a perfect example of a “single bevel knife”. This is fancy knife dork speak for a knife that isonly sharpened on one side. You can see the knife in the photos above have a very definable bevel grind line that goes from the handle to the spine just below the tip, which is called a“Shinogi”. The back side does not. Boom, Single bevel. The back side of the knife is not completely flat - it’s actually concave. We call that the“Urasuki”!
The idea behind this unique construction boils down to equal parts performance and food release. If you were to grab a Yanagiba and try to go to town on a sweet potato, you’d have a pretty bad time - due to the knife only being ground on one side; it would pull quite a bit to the left. The blade is also thicker than your average chef’s knife, so it would wedge into the potato rather uncomfortably. Cutting into very hard food with a Yanagiba will not get you great results
Yanagibas have incredibly fine edges, even compared to other Japanese knives!
A big, juicy, delicious slab of fish, on the other hand, will give you a very different slicing experience. The edge of the Yanagiba (or“Koba”) is extremely thin and sharp, so as soon as you start to cut, you’ll feel the blade bite into the flesh very easily. As you continue to drag the knife through the fish, you’ll feel the blade begin to pull a bit to the left - with a knife like this; you’ll always be slicing at a little bit of an angle. This is where the concave “Urusaki” comes into play - as you slice, the concavity of the blade will naturally release from the slice of fish. This means you won’t be generating friction between the fish and the knife. Your beautiful slice will be under much less stress and will be less likely to get torn or mangled up. Make sense? Of course not. Watch Naoto. He’ll show you what’s up.
If you're ready to get equipped with a Yanagiba, here are a few of my favourites:
If you're looking for a high-quality, reliable yanagiba that also doesn't break the bank, look no further than the Suigyu Kasumitogi from Sakai Takayuki. It features a gorgeous simplicity common to traditional single bevel knives, and a razor-sharp edge forged from #3 white carbon steel that'll be very rewarding to sharpen yourself.
Now we're talking. This guy is a solid step up, both in performance and aesthetics. With a sexy damascus (or suminagashi, if you're fancy) finish and a harder blade made from #2 white carbon, this is the knife for professionals, and anyone that wants to show of their sushi prowess to their house guests.
Oh baby. Now we're getting into the really sexy knives with this Sakimaru. Just LOOK at it! Not only is it totally badass looking, but it features some extra heft and length that makes sashimi slicing a breeze. If you're a collector (you know who you are) or a master sushi chef, you need this knife in your set.
So. Do you slice fish? Maybe. Do you want to slice fish? I bet you do now! Feel free to dive right in and browse for a Yanagiba, but if you want more information on single bevel knives, click here for Naoto’s Low-Down on Single Bevel Sharpening. If you want more info on different kinds of slicers, click to compare the Yanagiba and the mighty Sujihiki, a super cool double bevel slicer. Thanks for reading, and stay sharp, homies!
Owen is another ex-chef among our ranks. he has been Chef-ing in Edmonton for around 12 years but gave it up to be a human being again! An avid music lover, he plays guitar, loves Radiohead, and has probably been to about 500 concerts. Oh, and he can most definitely beat you in a game of Street Fighter. come chat with him about football, and steel!
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