A sashimi knife is one of several traditional Japanese knives. Quality sashimi knives are made of lightweight, high quality steel, often with round, wooden handles and allow quick, smooth cuts. The many different types include yanagi, tako, fugu, and deba.
The yanagi sashimi knife is used for slicing long pieces of fish and is most similar to the Western utility knife. Its blade length is generally 10 to 12 inches (254-304 mm). The tako sashimi knife, comparable to a western carving knife, is used for thicker cuts of fish and is able to cut through skin and small bones. A tako knife might also have a metal handle that is balanced with sand.
The fugu knife is used to slice the puffer fish, or blowfish, and has a thin, flexible blade that is also broad. This particular knife is often shaped like the puffer fish, or fugu, itself. A deba knife is a heavier, thicker piece of cutlery that is used for easily cutting through fish skins and bones. The blade length of a deba knife varies from 4 to 8 inches (101-203 mm).
Japanese knives vary from Western knives in that they have a single beveled edge. The opposite side is hollowed. This design allows the knives to have a sharper edge, but also means that they are fragile.
Care and regular maintenance ensure constant sharpness and safety. The weight of the knife is predominantly at the end of the blade, which allows the chef to make comfortable movements. The blade length can vary from 3 to 14 inches (76-355 mm). The constant sharpening of the sashimi knife will eventually shorten the blade. The knives can also be used to finely slice other meats.
A sashimi knife is available in a wide price range. A more expensive sashimi knife might have a higher quality finish on the blade, as well as a more refined handle. The price ranges from under $100 US Dollars (USD) to over $400 USD. To a sushi chef, the knife is an extremely important tool. Because there is little preparation to sushi, appearance is critical and a sharp knife is key to a silky texture.