Knives are the most important equipment in a professional chef’s arsenal.
They are applicable for almost any food preparation, from cutting raw fish to butchering primal cuts for carcasses.
With so many knife variants to choose from, amateurs might get confused about which is the most effective.
For quite some time, Japanese knives have become an integral part of kitchens worldwide due to their sharp blade and other features.
One of the most famous Japanese knives we have is the Kiritsuke, so let’s answer “What is a Kiritsuke knife used for?” and discuss other relevant topics.
- The Background and Culture of Japanese Knives
- What Is a Kiritsuke Knife Used For?
- What Are the Different Types of Kiritsuke Knives?
- Recommendations on Using a Kiritsuke Knife
- Exemplary Kiritsuke Knife Models
- Is a Kiritsuke Knife Worth Buying?
The Background and Culture of Japanese Knives
Japanese blades were created in Japan during the early Heian (794 and 1185) era, using techniques influenced by Chinese and Korean swordsmithing.
The earliest knife discovered is designed like a small Japanese sword with a single bevel edge that a samurai carried.
Since the dawn of the Tokugawa era (the period between 1603 and 1867), Japanese knives have become more advanced.
Variations such as Deba, the Japanese kitchen knife, Yanagiba, for sashimi, and Nakiri, the vegetable knife, are all widely utilized.
After a couple of centuries, the arrival of Western cuisine paved the way for the development of Gyuto, the Japanese chef knife.
In Japanese cuisine culture, “adulthood” for chefs does not only mean knowing how to handle their knives.
They also religiously practice how to care for them properly.
After completing their tasks, chefs will often sharpen and polish their knives before calling it a day.
As such, the Japanese chef knives will mostly maintain a sharp edge for a long time.
Not only applied by chefs, but the Japanese, in general, have established a culture of preserving objects and utilizing them for as long as possible.
What Is a Kiritsuke Knife Used For?
Japanese knives have a reputation for being versatile because they can be of use for a broad range of purposes in the kitchen.
The Kiritsuke knife falls somewhere in the middle of two other Japanese knives.
It is comparable to the Japanese Gyutos but longer and the Yanagi but with an angled tip.
While it may seem that it’s also quite versatile because of its design, the Kiritsuke may not be considered as such.
So to address the question of what is a Kiritsuke used for, they are mostly recommended for slicing fish.
Its hybrid design that comes from two specialist knives pose a challenge to Japanese chefs, especially beginners.
A highly precise application of traditional Japanese cutting techniques with a Kiritsuke is relatively difficult to achieve.
As a result, the Kiritsuke is reserved for veteran cooks in Japanese restaurants and is considered a prestige symbol.
While it is mainly associated with professionals, it does not imply that homemakers, cooking enthusiasts, and amateur chefs cannot learn how to use it.
Regular usage will definitely help you in being familiar with Kiritsuke knives.
With some practice, you’ll get excellent cuts to your fish for sushi, kabayaki, and other traditional Japanese dishes.
What Are the Different Types of Kiritsuke Knives?
Kiritsuke knives are mainly categorized by their bevel edges.
Single bevel edge knives feature a flat heel section similar to an Usuba, another Japanese knife.
They are primarily utilized for slicing fish and vegetables.
The single bevel knife is considered the traditional form of Kiritsuke knives.
Double bevel edge Kiritsukes, on the other hand, exhibit a blend of Nakiri and Sujihiki knife designs.
While the double bevel Kiritsukes are also great for fish and vegetables, they are specially made for Western cuisine.
The capabilities of these types may seem to be similar, but it’s essential to be aware that both have specific advantages.
Single bevel models are generally more efficient, while the double bevel knife seems to be more versatile.
Recommendations on Using a Kiritsuke Knife
As stated earlier, the Kirituske is not as easy to master as other Japanese knives.
Nonetheless, by applying the recommendations we listed below, you might be on the right track to properly use it.
Slow and Not Too Strong Cutting
Kiritsuke knives have a reputation for being ultra-sharp since they can cut fish with ease and other ingredients.
Thus, don’t apply too much strength and keep a slow pace during practice to avoid injuries.
Maintain a Consistent Posture
Your posture must be consistent whenever you are handling a Kiritsuke.
Always keep your one foot slightly back and to the side to give your arm more clearance.
Practice the Right Grip Style
When using a Kirituske knife, perform a pinch grip on its handle.
You can do this by holding the blade’s base with your index and thumb while wrapping the other fingers around the handle.
Press the Tip on the Board
To generate highly accurate slices, the tip of the Kiritsuke knife needs to be pressed on the board.
Generally, Japanese chefs tend to utilize the knives’ tip more than Western chefs.
Exemplary Kiritsuke Knife Models
When looking for a Kiritsuke knife, you’ll encounter many variants in different price ranges.
Let’s take a look at some highly-rated models of this prestigious Japanese knife.
This affordable Kiritsuke is ideal for cutting vegetables and fruits.
Using age-old Japanese bladesmith techniques, the TUO Kiritsuke knife ensures efficiency and longevity.
Also, it guarantees that the blade will not rust over time as it adopted the German’s High-Carbon Stainless steel material.
Each blade side is honed to 18 degrees by highly trained knife smiths utilizing the ancient 3-step Honbazuke procedure.
This model came from the Yoshihiro Mizu Yaki Kurouchi Series, a famous Japanese knife collection.
The name signifies the different methods used in making the knives.
Mizu Yaki is a rigorous technique of water quenching to extract the toughness of refined steel.
It also instills the knife with enough robustness to function consistently.
Kurouchi, the black forged finishing, is made from a carbonized coating that forms during heat treatment, giving it a distinct appearance and a rustic vibe.
The core of Blue High Carbon Steel #1 is regarded for its high edge retention, with a hardness rating of 63-64 on the Rockwell scale.
It is layered between carbon steel in the classic Warikomi style to increase durability and easy sharpening.
Is a Kiritsuke Knife Worth Buying?
Learning the distinctions in the functionality and design of knives will help you decide what to buy next.
That’s why being familiar with the functionality of a Kiritsuke will give you an idea if it’s worth having one in your kitchen.
If you’re on the fence, you may try an entry-level model to see for yourself its features firsthand.