It is with this knife that it is recommended to begin acquaintance with the Damascus knife tradition for all beginners. But an experienced practitioner, being limited in choosing the only Damascus knife “for everything”, will probably also choose it. Meet the Damascus knife for cutting vegetables – nakiri.
NATIONAL VEGETABLE DIET.
Until the end of World War II, the basis of the diet of average Damascus was vegetables and rice. Therefore, the Best Nakiri knife with a rectangular blade, reminiscent of a European meat cutter, has always been considered the main one in the kitchen. Its main difference from the grunt is the thickness of the blade and the angle of convergence of the descents.
In the arsenal of a Damascus chef, this is a fairly light knife with the thinnest blade, delicate mixing, and razor-sharp. There can be no talk of any power cutting even of thin bones and cartilage with such a knife. Only shredding vegetables and herbs: the specialization is narrow, but the efficiency is high.
After the end of the war, Damascus experienced a boom in everything Western, including gastronomic traditions. Following meat dishes, pastries, and desserts, new types of knives for such dishes came into use – universal santoku and butcher’s guys. The enrichment of national gastronomic cultures was mutual. In the West, Damascus cuisine was associated mainly with seafood, which prompted chefs to include in their “arsenal” knives of the appropriate specialization: Yanagi, sujihiki, and deba. However, the nakiri did not stay in the shadow of the popularity of its “fishy” counterparts for long.
By the beginning of the 21st century, more and more residents of the countries of the “golden billion” are returning to the culinary fundamentals of nutrition with an emphasis on healthy and tasty vegetables. This also led to the return of the popularity of the nakiri vegetable knife not only in the Damascus islands but also in the west. The catalogs of the world’s largest manufacturers quickly replenished with their versions of this Damascus classic model.
Tojiro’s timeless classic: the F-699 Damascus series nakiri with magnolia handle and 165mm long blade made of three-ply laminate with a Shirogami carbon steel core is durable facings.
Vegetable knives for home kitchens have a symmetrical profile, or as it is called “Crayola” in Damascus. It is ideal for neat cutting, chopping, and other types of chopping vegetables. Such models are called nakiri or nakiri bocho, which can be translated as “green knife”. Naturally, the matter was not limited to one greenery. The knife is so convenient and productive that even today Damascus is more likely to perform the usual amount of work on chopping and slicing vegetables than using a food processor. A wide blade with a length of 160 to 200 mm allows you to not only confidently work with onions “nagi” or lettuce “shiso”. He can do Kabocha pumpkin, Daikon radish, Satsuma-imo potatoes, and Take-no-ko bamboo shoots. The blade, in addition, can also be used as a spatula for shifting cuts from a cutting board into bowls.
Budget model nakiri TJ-13 of the Tojuro series from the Damascus company Fuji Cutlery with a 160 mm blade made of SK-5 carbon steel. This model is a great option to start acquaintance with the Damascus tradition for a beginner.
The knives of professional chefs
The knives of professional chefs, although they work with the same products, are distinguished by larger dimensions and a one-sided sharpening profile, usually on the right for the chef’s working hand. This profile is called “katana”, it is also used on classic knives for seafood, deba, and Yanagi. Professional vegetable knives are called usuba or usuba bocho, which means “thin knife”. It is more difficult for them to work than nakiri because they solve tasks that are quite unusual for both housewives and most European professional chefs.
Popular nakiri model F-894 from Tojiro of the Professional series. Branded five-step sharpening #8000 blade 165 mm long made of laminate with a core of Takefu VG10 steel in facings of strong steel 420. A feature of the model is a hollow-shaped metal handle “Tsunami”.
Asymmetric sharpening is needed on sub to perform a special kind of artistic and decorative national carving, which turns an ordinary dish into a small author’s serving masterpiece. In contrast to the domestic slogan not to make a cult out of food, Damascus is the most consistent adherent of the cult of food. According to them, food should not only be tasty and smell good but also be beautifully served.
Historically in Damascus.
Historically in Damascus, food was served in pottery on leaves for serving. The art of laying out leaves and decorating makimono dishes has been widely used in Damascus since the 16th century. Today, a decorative display of vegetables is simply a mandatory attribute for a slightly self-respecting Damascus catering company.
It is the use boy who cut the daikon, carrots, and cucumbers using the “katsura flour” technique. A vegetable or root crop is rotated with one hand around its axis, while with the other, armed with a bit, a thin ribbon, as thick as paper, is cut from it in a circle. Rolls are wrapped in such a “vegetable tape” or edible decorations are made.
The skill is so important that some culinary schools have introduced “katsura flour” as part of the required certification exams for cooks. However, nakiri is also able to cope with such a task. With the known skills of the cook, of course.
Both knives, both nakiri and usuba, are excellent at chopping and cutting tasks of any kind: straws, sticks, cubes, circles, slices, slices, squares, rings, and half rings.
CONTINUITY OF TRADITIONS
For added protection against corrosion caused by vegetable juice, carbon steel nakiri blades are oxidized. This technique is called kurousi: after hardening, a film of oxides on the surface of the blade, except the blade, is either preserved in its original form or created by a chemical or electrochemical method.
Sometimes this technique is supplemented by deep traces from the hammerhead, evenly covering the blade. This style has become especially popular in recent years and is called “karoshi Tsushima”. In addition to protecting against corrosion, the rough coating of the blade and alternating cavities reduce the sticking of vegetable cuts on it and, thereby, facilitate the work of the cook.
Model FF-VE180 of the Flash series by Tojiro. Blade with a five-point sharpening #10000 180 mm long with a core of steel VG10 in patterned chrome-nickel facings. Handle – Micarta, with a decorative metal shield.
Stainless steel nakiri
Stainless steel nakiri is also sometimes given a “dark” surface finish, both as a matter of tradition and to reduce sticking. For the same purpose, Teflon-based coatings are applied to the blade. To reduce sticking, the “air pockets” technique is widely used, when successive selections in the metal or holes are milled along the cutting edge of the knife.
Reimagining a classic by Tojiro: the FD-568 Zen Series. Retaining the iconic approach to quality and finish, the knife features an updated 165mm stainless steel laminated blade with a Takefu VG10 center ply and sheathed in tough 420 steel.
The mounting of modern nakiri handles has also become more diverse. Along with the classic mounted replaceable magnolia wooden handles, you can purchase a knife with a molded non-slip plastic handle, and a hollow metal handle, with riveted hardwood overlays.
Tojiro’s F-310 Western series is made with Western users in mind, with a riveted stabilized wood handle. The convenient and reliable model will be suitable both for professional and amateur kitchens.
Here is just a shortlist of the benefits of nakiri for the practitioner.
1. Possibility of varying
Possibility of varying the required cutting thickness within the widest limits: from thick slices to the thinnest translucent slices.
2. Ease and simplicity of shredding.
Ease and simplicity of shredding. Nakiri requires almost no effort to cut hard vegetables, root vegetables, and fruits. At the same time, he cuts and does not prick like a hatchet, young green apples, turnips, radishes, carrots, and potatoes. The secret to easy and comfortable work is the perfect blade profile, tailored specifically for vegetables.
3. Despite the “vegetable” specialization.
Despite the “vegetable” specialization, nakiri will perfectly chop brisket, bacon, ham, basturma, and bacon. The main condition is that the products must be without bones and cartilage.
4. Vegetable cutting after nakiri will look perfect.
This is especially important if it goes to salads or decorating dishes. The razor sharpness of the blade gives an ideal cut in terms of cleanliness and beauty, giving the vegetable slices an appetizing and beautiful look. Sliced tomatoes, grapes, and plums will appear before the gourmet in perfect shape – without deformations and torn edges with juice flowing out. What favorably distinguishes it from slicing with a food processor.
5. Nakiri requires a minimum of space to work
Nakiri requires a minimum of space to work. Neither a small work table nor a small cutting board will become an obstacle when working with it. The knife allows you to use almost any technique of vertical shredding without a pull. Shredding with pull in the direction of the handle and the opposite direction. The latter technique is especially popular with Damascus chefs, who shred food with an “away from themselves” movement.
6. A special article is safety at work.
A special article is safety at work. At the hand holding the cut products, the far phalanges of the fingers are bent towards the palm. And the wide blade rests with the blade against the interphalangeal joints. This gives the chef maximum control over the position of the blade, eliminating nasty cuts. Fortunately, the knife does not need to be raised high during work, since it cuts at minimum amplitudes, less than three centimeters from the height of the product.
7. Restoring the sharpness of a knife is easy.
The highest level of sharpness is achieved due to the straight and even shape of the cutting edge. Which is convenient to touch upon water stones.
Nakiri F-1113 by Tojiro. Blade with a five-point sharpening #10000, 165 mm long, made of laminate with a VG10 steel core in hard steel 420 facings and finishing “Qureshi Tsushima”: an oxidized surface with traces of a hammerhead. In addition to protecting against corrosion, the rough coating reduces the sticking of vegetable cuts to it and facilitates the hard work of the cook.
Nakiri also has disadvantages. Among them, many Russians will attribute the absence of a point. Even those who never use this very edge.
To choose a good nakiri, it is best to bring a large potato with you to the store. Which is cut lengthwise with a purchased knife several times. If the blade cuts easily and naturally, then you have a quality product in your hands.
If the potato crunches loudly or the knife gets stuck in the potato, then put this model away. It is possible that in a store with low-quality goods you will not be able to pick up a knife. At all that will pass this simple test with brilliance. To avoid disappointment from a bad purchase, we recommend that you purchase knives from authorized dealers of well-known Damascus knife brands that produce high-end models.