What Are Some Types Of Kitchen Knives? | Jonas Blade

What Are Some Types Of Kitchen Knives?

Turn on the Food Network today and chances are very good that you’ll see someone preparing food with a chef’s knife. It is such a simple, ubiquitous, and iconic design that it can be easy to overlook. Even its name is almost subliminal; a chef’s knife—obviously, the knife that a chef uses would be the chef’s knife. There is also a decent chance you will see one of a handful of other types of kitchen knife (paring, boning, or butcher, to name a few) but the truth is that most cooks, whether professional or amateur, have that one knife they grab for just about everything. 

There are of course many more types of kitchen knife available to the culinary warrior. One example is the Chinese cleaver. Known locally as a cai dao, the Chinese cleaver does resemble the bluff, rectangular Western cleaver, but it is in fact a much more elegant cooking tool. Often surprisingly large, the cai dao is also known as the Chinese chef’s knife; in that part of the world, that is the one knife most cooks will reach for most of the time. 

Here are the types of kitchen knives from different areas of the world that We will look at:

The Japanese Arsenal

Moving a little further east, no discussion about the types of kitchen knife can be complete without discussing the Japanese arsenal. The Japanese culinary tradition has at least twenty-five different categories (or types) of kitchen knife, each with its own very particular specialty. 

Some examples include:

  • Yanagiba – used to cut raw fish for the preparation of sushi.
  • Maguro Bocho – used to butcher whole tuna.
  • Takohiki – which is similar to the yanagiba, but is used specifically for cutting octopus.
  • Sobakiri – used for cutting noodles.
  • Gyuto – which translates to “meat sword”.

The Japanese chef has a truly broad array of choices at his or her disposal. Now let’s go Even further to the east.

The Alaskan Selection

In Alaska, we find the unassuming ulu knife. As types of kitchen knife go, the ulu is one of the most versatile examples in the world. Several different Eskimo cultures have their own variants, but they all feature the same half-moon edge and simple handle format. The ulu is used for just about every task a knife can be used for, from hunting and dressing game, to preparing food, to building igloos.

The “Goto” Knife

For most cooks, however technically proficient they may be, the Western chef’s knife is the tool of choice for most tasks. As a type of kitchen knife, it actually embodies an exceptional array and balance of functionality. The chef’s knife is ideally suited for chopping and slicing through nearly any type of food you’ll encounter, with good ergonomics for most people to handle and ranging in size from 6” to 16”. Every cook has their preference; some will say that it is easier to do a small task with a large knife than it is to do a large task with a small knife. Others are simply more comfortable with a smaller tool, but nevertheless manage impressive cooking with just the one blade. 

There are dozens upon dozens of types of kitchen knife. Which one do you like? 

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About The Author

Zack Jonas was born and raised in Massachusetts in the 1980’s and is still a New Englander today. With his growing love for art over the years, he took an introductory bladesmithing class at MASSart. It was there that he learned one of his most valuable lessons, which is that everyone has some insight worth learning. Today, he is a full-time bladesmith and feels incredibly fortunate to have found his calling.