How to Use a Nakiri Knife

If you enjoy using a good kitchen knife, a Nakiri should be a part of your arsenal.

Get chopping!
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a nakiri knife and sheath with a gray handle

What is a Nakiri Knife?

A Nakiri is a Japanese vegetable knife. It has a wide, symmetrical, straight blade and a blunt nose. The shape of this blade lets you know how to use it – rather than rocking forward and back as you would with a curved chef’s knife, a Nakiri is intended to be used in a straight up and down motion or a slicing forwards and backward while using an up and down motion. By chopping up and down, you can chop through tender vegetables quickly and efficiently. If you’re slicing back and forth, the straight edge makes more contact with the cutting board, giving you a cleaner cut in the end. The wide blade allows you to pick up the chopped food to transfer it to a bowl or a pan. 

What to cut with a Nakiri Knife

Now you know the motion you are using with a Nakiri, you’ll begin to understand what foods are best cut with it. This is not a meat cleaver. This knife is for all your vegetables and fruit. Here’s a non-exclusive list:

  • cucumber
  • zucchini and other summer squash
  • cabbages – green, red, Napa, Savoy
  • potatoes of all kinds
  • mushrooms
  • peppers
  • tomatoes
  • apples, pears, oranges, lemons, limes
  • melons of all kinds
  • pineapple

A nakiri knife cutting through zucchini on a wooden cutting board.

Grooved Nakiri Knife

Since the Nakiri is intended for vegetables, and since vegetables tend to have a high moisture and sometimes starch content, when it came time to design a Nakiri knife for the Blue Jean Chef® line, I decided to add a grooved blade. This grooved blade allows a little air to get between the knife and the food being cut and that air helps prevent the food from sticking to the blade. There is less friction and consequently, less sticking. That allows you to be even more efficient as you’re doing all your prep work in the kitchen – never having to knock food off your knife blade. 

Hands running a nakiri knife along a honing steel.

How to Sharpen a Nakiri Knife

A Nakiri knife has a straight, double-beveled edge. That means that you can sharpen this knife just as you would all your other knives. You can use a drag through sharpener or an electric sharpener to sharpen the knives and you can run the knife blade along a steel to hone the edge. You can also send your Nakiri knife off to a professional knife sharpener once a year or so if that makes you more comfortable. 

How to Use a Nakiri Knife

For a better idea of how to use a Nakiri knife, check out the video below.

 

 

Quick Notes:

  • A Nakiri is a Japanese vegetable knife.
  • It has a straight, symmetrical blade with a blunt nose.
  • Use an up and down motion with the Nakiri, or slice forward and back, but no rocking.
  • The Nakiri excels at cutting all kinds of vegetables.
  • The BJC® grooved Nakiri knife is grooved to help prevent foods from sticking to the blade.
  • Sharpen the Nakiri knife the same way you sharpen all your knives.

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