A kiritsuke knife is a less common type of chef's knife that resembles a cross between a chef's knife or Gyuto and a Yanagi, which is used for slicing sashimi.
Though it resembles other Japanese knives, the Kiritsuke has its own unique features and purposes. Because of its design, the kiritsuke can be used for many different tasks in the kitchen, from vegetables to meat and fish, making it a versatile addition to any chef's arsenal.
Let's take a closer look at this interesting knife!
What is a Kiritsuke, and what are its uses
Kiritsuke knives are typically only used by sushi chefs or other skilled culinarians and are also known as the "Masters Knife" due to their extremely sharp blade and multi-purpose design, making it a versatile tool in any kitchen.
It can be used for slicing, dicing, and mincing, as well as for more delicate tasks such as filleting fish. The long, straight blade and its pointed tip also make it ideal for chopping vegetables and herbs.
In addition to its utility, the Kiritsuke's distinct shape makes for a beautiful knife, which will make it stand out in any knife block or roll.
Anatomy of the Kiritsuke Handle
The Handle or E
Traditionally, Kiritsuke's come with "wa" style handles that are lightweight compared with the blade, which helps move the balance point down further, making it ideal to be held with a pinch grip to give the wielder better control when doing precision work.
Although the "wa" style handle delivers a traditional feel, there are versions with "western" style handles that provide better ergonomics.
The Handle Butt or Ejiri
The handle of the knife is often designed to have an angle at its base. These angles are always created after the bladesmith can tap the blade tang into it. The additional removal of material from the handle further helps bring the weight forward while still looking elegant on display or when handled themselves!
The Handle Steel Section or Tang
Traditionally, the tang section of a Japanese knife is thin and located towards its handle. This type of design allows us to use single-piece hones wood or burl that has been beautifully carved with intricate patterns as opposed to two thinner pieces of material attached to both sides of the tang. The single-piece handle provides for strength while remaining lightweight in comparison.
Collar or Kakumaki
The collar on these knives tapers towards the blade. This is a relatively uncommon design choice - as it takes longer to create such an effect with hand-forged steel. The shape makes them easier for us pinch holds because when you hold onto both sides at once, there's less weight on any single point, which helps ease movement up or down through your cuts while cutting various materials.
Anatomy of the Kiritsuke Blade
Heel or Ago
The heel of the Kiritsuke is like that found on a Bunka - it's there to help you push down and cut things that are difficult. If you want a more hands-on approach, use your non-holding hand as leverage by placing your palm on the spine above the heel and pushing down.
Spine or Muni
The spine of most Kiritsuke Knives is slightly thinner than a Gyuto or Santoku, which allows less force to be used while cutting root or starchy vegetables.
Belly or Tsura
The belly of the blade is long and deep, which makes it perfect for cut strokes when compared with other types of kitchen knives. Due to the length of the knife, the depth of the belly seems understated.
Tip or Kissaki
The Kiritsuke has a unique tip that makes it easy to slice through meat without all the mess. It's also finished with a "K-tip," which is similar in shape and design as those found on a Bunka. This tip is also great for fileting fish as it can glide across the bones giving the chef tons of tactile feedback.
Edge or Hassaki
The edge of the blade is the most used part of any Kiritsuke, as it is the starting point of the world-renowned "Push Cut". This type of cut uses a forward-moving push that lets the edge do the hard work while you direct the knife.
Cutting Edge or Kireha
The Kireha offers a thicker portion that is closer to the handle that allows more power to be exerted on to it. The wider spine above this powerful cutting edge alone helps make the kiritsuke far superior to other types of kitchen knives.
What Type of Bevel does a Kiritsuke Have?
Kiritsuke knives usually come with single bevel edges making them extremely sharp, and should only be used by experienced cooks or chefs. Single-bevel knives can be dangerous if not used properly because the edges are sharpened so thin you will usually see blood before you feel the pain.
While extremely sharp, single-bevel edges aren't as durable or versatile as the double-bevel counterparts - so the emergence of double-bevel Kiritsukes is more common.
What blade length do Kiritsuke Knives Have?
The lengths range between 240mm up 330 mm, but it's important not just choose the longest one because they're also suitable if you have shorter hands or need more control when working with delicate ingredients.
The best way to hold Kiritsuke Knives
The best way to grip a Kiritsuke knife is by placing your index finger on the spine, with your other fingers wrapped around the handle. You should then use your thumb to support the blade from underneath.
This grip may feel strange at first, but it will help you to maintain control of the knife and prevent accidental cuts. With a little practice, you'll be slicing vegetables like a pro in no time.
How to care for your Kiritsuke
To care for your Kiritsuke, it is important to hand-wash the knife with warm water and mild soap. Avoid using harsh detergents or scrubbing it with abrasive materials, as this can damage the blade. It is also important to dry the knife completely after washing it, as water can cause corrosion.
To keep the knife in good condition, it should be regularly honed with a sharpening stone. With proper care, your Kiritsuke will provide years of reliable service.
Why you should consider purchasing a Kiritsuke Knife
If you’re looking for a kitchen knife that is both versatile and beautiful, the Japanese Kiritsuke Knife is perfect for you. With its straight design and sharp edge, this knife can handle all of your slicing, dicing, and chopping needs with ease making it a great choice for busy home cooks and every chef.
So what are you waiting for? Buy a Japanese Kiritsuke today!