There are a number of different knives used in the world for various purposes. No matter where you go or what kind of job you have, you’ll probably need to cut some type of food from time to time.
There are dozens of different knives used for this purpose and it can get a bit overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with all their names and functions. Fortunately, most knives fall under two different categories that can help you understand which one will be right for your needs.
These categories are known as nakiri vs cleaver knives and there is a lot of overlap between them. Let’s take a closer look so you know which one to buy next time you need one.
What is the difference between a nakiri knife and a cleaver?
A nakiri knife is a type of chef’s knife that is used for cutting vegetables for a fine side dish. It is commonly used for kaiware, or garnishing the side dishes of a meal
Unlike a Western chef’s knife, which has a broader blade that is perfect for chopping and slicing, a nakiri’s blade is thinner and sharper for precision cutting. A cleaver is best used as a meat and vegetable disher.
It is designed to help you get the precise amount of each ingredient in your meal, such as onions, garlic, carrots, and ginger. It is also known as a vegetable knife, and it is considered a more versatile knife than a chef’s knife because it can handle more types of food.
Nakiri vs Santoku knives
A nakiri knife is shorter and thinner than a Western chef’s knife (like a Santoku knife), making it better for precise cutting. A nakiri knife is commonly used for cutting vegetables like carrots and ginger for garnish. It can also be used for dicing onions, julienned carrots, or other thin vegetables.
A Santoku knife is a hybrid of Western and Japanese knives. It’s also known as a Western style knife with a Japanese blade profile. The blade is typically thinner than a Western chef’s knife and curved to make slicing easier.
The thin blade makes it easier to cut through tough vegetables like carrots, but the curved blade gives it a bit of aWestern edge for chopping and mincing.
What is a Japanese knife?
A Japanese knife is a hybrid of Western and Japanese blades. The blade is typically thicker than a Western chef’s knife, but thinner than a Japanese mincing knife.
This hybrid brings together the best of both worlds, allowing you to handle a wide range of food types. Japanese knives are typically very sharp and are designed to last.
The steel used to make them is usually a high-quality carbon steel that holds an extremely sharp edge.
Japanese knives are designed to be used with a Japanese-style honing called a whetstone. This honing process helps keep the knife’s edge razor-sharp. Most high-quality Japanese knives come with a honing rod that you can use.
German knives are a hybrid of Western and Japanese blades. They are typically heavier than Western-style knives, making them ideal for heavy-duty tasks like cutting meat.
German knives also typically have a heavier blade, making them ideal for chopping or mincing. Western-style German knives typically have a longer blade and a slightly Western edge.
The Western edge on the blade is typically flatter, which allows you to cut through food with less force than a Japanese blade. Japanese-style German knives have a thin, curved Japanese blade and are designed to be used with Japanese honing stones.
This honing process helps keep the knife’s blade edge sharp. Japanese-style German knives usually have a thicker, heavier blade and are made for heavy-duty tasks like slicing through meat. These knives are typically heavier and more durable than Western-style German knives.
French knives are a hybrid of Western and Japanese blades, but they have a French curve to their blade, making it ideal for cutting boneless meats like chicken.
French knives are typically heavier and more durable than Western-style knives. Japanese-style French knives have a thin, curved Japanese blade and are designed to be used with Japanese honing stones. This honing process helps keep the knife’s blade edge sharp.
Western-style French knives typically have a shorter blade and are heavier than Japanese-style French knives. They are designed for chopping, mincing, and dicing, similar to Western-style knives.
Spanish knives are similar to French knives and are hybrids of Western and Japanese blades. Like the French knives, they are typically heavier than Western-style knives.
Spanish-style knives typically have a shorter blade and are designed for chopping and mincing. They’re also designed to have a curved edge to fit comfortably in your hand. Western-style Spanish knives typically have a longer blade and are designed for heavy-duty tasks like slicing through meat.
They’re also designed to have a straight edge on the blade. Japanese-style Spanish knives have a thin, curved Japanese blade and are designed to be used with Japanese honing stones. This honing process helps keep the knife’s blade edge sharp.
Dutch knives are a hybrid of Western and Japanese blades. They are typically heavier and more durable than Western-style knives. Dutch knives also have a thicker blade, typically giving them a greater ability to cut through tougher foods like meat.
Western-style Dutch knives have a shorter blade and are designed to be used for chopping, mincing, and dicing like Western-style knives. Japanese-style Dutch knives have a thin, curved Japanese blade and are designed to be used with Japanese honing stones. This honing process helps keep the knife’s blade edge sharp.
Examples of popular brands of knives
K Forschner – German, French, and Japanese knives. The Forschner brand is one of the oldest knife companies in the world and has been producing high-quality knives for over 100 years.
Their knives are known for their durability and sharpness. Victorinox – Swiss army knives. Swiss army knives are extremely popular all over the world due to their functionality and durability.
Victorinox knives are made with high-quality materials and are known for their durability. The popular Compression model has a serrated edge and can be used as both a saw and a knife. Wüsthof – German knives. German knives are extremely popular due to their high-quality steel and durability.
The Wüsthof brand is a household name among knife enthusiasts and is known for its high-quality products. Royal Shuko – Japanese knives. Japanese knives are made of extremely high-quality steel and are designed to be used with a honing stone.
These knives are also known to have a higher degree of sharpness than Western-style knives.
There are countless choices when it comes to knives out there, and they can be overwhelming to someone who isn’t familiar with them. It’s important to know what type of knife you need, what it will be used for, and what materials it should be made of.
If you aren’t sure what types of knives you will need, consider what kind of work you do. Are you a chef? Do you need a certain type of knife? What do you typically do with the food that you cut with the knife?
Not only will this help you decide what kind of knife you need, it will also help you narrow down your options and make your decision easier.