Types of knives

  • Gyuto: (literally beef-sword). The chefs knife for professional Western cuisine. For vegetables, it is used to chop or thrust cut like a nakiri near the heel, to rock-chop stiffer produce in the belly, and to make fine cuts at the tip. For meat, it is used to saw back and forth for large cuts, to pull cut for softer meats and for a better surface finish, and to push cut for more sinewy meat. There is usually a slope from heel to tip which causes the wrist to point down and shoulder to raise up to make cuts. General size is 210 mm to 270 mm. 210 is more of a line knife size and most nimble, 240 is more of a general purpose size and allows more slicing, and 270 has more slicing power but is much more cumbersome, being the tallest and longest.
  • Santoku: (literally three-virtues), also called bunka bocho (literally culture knife). The even more Japanese version of a chefs knife prioritized for vegetables and fish. They are generally flatter than gyuto and have a less pointy tip. Because they are flatter, the wrist is in a more neutral position and the shoulder does not need to be raised as high. They do not require as much room to cut, but they do not perform the Western cutting techniques that take up more room as well as gyuto do. These are the most popular knives in most Japanese homes.
  • Petty: A smaller knife to accompany gyuto for in hand paring work or for produce at a scale that much smaller than gyuto. General size is 120 mm to 180 mm.
  • Sujihiki: (literally muscle cutter). These are long knives to cut meat, often in a draw cut. General size is 240 mm to 300 mm.
  • Usuba: (literally thin blade). Thinnest of the three general knife shapes. Flat edge profile. Used for push cutting, katsuramuki (rotary cutting thin sheets) and sengiri (cutting thin strips from those sheets). There is edo-usuba (square tip) and kamagata-usuba (round tip).