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View Full Version : Yanagiba as all-purpose slicer?



perneto
01-31-2013, 06:16 PM
Would you use a yanagiba for all slicing jobs, or does it really only make sense for fish?

I understand sujihikis are usually preferred as all-rounders, but I'd like to try single-bevels.

ThEoRy
01-31-2013, 06:27 PM
I like it for other boneless items like flank and hanger steak or pork tenderloins. But not for carving roasted beef tenderloins. Crusty meats are a bit rough on the edge.

jackslimpson
01-31-2013, 07:18 PM
I've been experimenting with my yanagiba as a general purpose slicer. I just sliced through a smoked brisket, and found it useful. It's a right-handed yanagiba. So, the real trouble I had was slicing with my right hand, while holding the meat with my left, where the slice fell to the left, and the meat to be sliced was to the right. I had to cross my hands over. Raw fish is heavy and grippy enough to accomodate the normal way these knives are used: slice falls to the left onto or guided by your left hand, where the rest of the fish is immobile to your right, should you be slicing with your right hand. Does this make sense? Essentially, using the yanagi to slice the brisket as I would a piece of salmon would have the blade pulling the brisket along with the blade. I had to nail it down by reaching over with my left hand. A sujihiki would eliminate this problem, as I would slice with my right, and hold the bulk of the meat to the left, while the slices fell to the right. Also, the yanagi performs best when the width of the item cut is less than a third of the lenght of the blade, so you have plenty of blade to draw while pushing down slightly to complete the slice. The brisket was wide, so caused me to have to lift my 270mm yanagi up, forward, and back again. This is a bunch of words that may sound confusing, but you'll know instantly when you try it.

I never worried much about cutting into the meat, as long as the crust, if any, wasn't too hard. I'd console myself with breaking out the stones for a pleasureable sharpening session on my JNats. I definitley avoid bones, though.

I've had the most success with cooked boneless chicken, cooked pork tenderloin, brisket, hanger steak.

Cheers,

Jack

perneto
01-31-2013, 09:38 PM
This makes a lot of sense actually. I didn't think of it... Major impediment to using a yanagiba as a general-purpose slicer.

I suppose the way to solve it would be to slice the brisket in half lengthwise first, so each half has plenty of grip on the board. Not sure the slices would look pretty though.

ThEoRy
01-31-2013, 09:55 PM
There's also steering to consider when slicing thicker meats.

Dave Martell
01-31-2013, 11:12 PM
Crusty meats are a bit rough on the edge.

That's the most important thing to take from this thread.

Yoni Lang
02-01-2013, 01:35 AM
Would you use a yanagiba for all slicing jobs, or does it really only make sense for fish?

I understand sujihikis are usually preferred as all-rounders, but I'd like to try single-bevels.

from my experience, a good yanagi is just that: a sashimi knife. suji is a good all rounder for sure.. you can cut sushi rolls, prep vegetables, even prep some smaller fish like saba if needed.. but when you go from cutting sashimi with a suji vs a yanagi, the difference is night and day- yanagi wins every time. that being said, using a yanagi for maki rolls and other prep, and you'll go right back to the suji/gyuto

GlassEye
02-01-2013, 02:14 AM
My single bevel slicers only get used on raw, boneless, proteins, once that is cooked I use a double bevel knife. I once chipped an edge slicing meat that was only salted and peppered, when I tried a single bevel knife on cooked meat. The type of edge, being highly polished, that a yanagiba needs just doesn't work as well as a coarser edge when dealing with cooked meats, especially if you have a crust to get through.

I have never had any steering issues though, even with pretty large pieces of meat. I find that meat has enough give that it doesn't force the blade to steer.

keithsaltydog
02-01-2013, 02:25 AM
from my experience, a good yanagi is just that: a sashimi knife. suji is a good all rounder for sure.. you can cut sushi rolls, prep vegetables, even prep some smaller fish like saba if needed.. but when you go from cutting sashimi with a suji vs a yanagi, the difference is night and day- yanagi wins every time. that being said, using a yanagi for maki rolls and other prep, and you'll go right back to the suji/gyuto

Totally agree along time ago used suji's to cut sashimi,when I got my first Yanagi it was much superior for sashimi & sushi topping,hardly ever used sugi's again. For Maki rolls,inside out rolls,thin carbon lazor gyuto rule IMO.

Now I am retired can't give up my yanagi completely used a smaller 240 as utility knife,had to put a micro bevel as the edge would suffer.It turned a dark patina because I was cutting all sorts of stuff wt. it.I recently sold my beloved Suisin 270 white steel to a coworker who is cutting all the fish these days.At least it is getting used again.

Andrew H
02-01-2013, 02:45 AM
I've been experimenting with my yanagiba as a general purpose slicer. I just sliced through a smoked brisket, and found it useful. It's a right-handed yanagiba. So, the real trouble I had was slicing with my right hand, while holding the meat with my left, where the slice fell to the left, and the meat to be sliced was to the right. I had to cross my hands over. Raw fish is heavy and grippy enough to accomodate the normal way these knives are used: slice falls to the left onto or guided by your left hand, where the rest of the fish is immobile to your right, should you be slicing with your right hand. Does this make sense? Essentially, using the yanagi to slice the brisket as I would a piece of salmon would have the blade pulling the brisket along with the blade. I had to nail it down by reaching over with my left hand. A sujihiki would eliminate this problem, as I would slice with my right, and hold the bulk of the meat to the left, while the slices fell to the right. Also, the yanagi performs best when the width of the item cut is less than a third of the lenght of the blade, so you have plenty of blade to draw while pushing down slightly to complete the slice. The brisket was wide, so caused me to have to lift my 270mm yanagi up, forward, and back again. This is a bunch of words that may sound confusing, but you'll know instantly when you try it.

I never worried much about cutting into the meat, as long as the crust, if any, wasn't too hard. I'd console myself with breaking out the stones for a pleasureable sharpening session on my JNats. I definitley avoid bones, though.

I've had the most success with cooked boneless chicken, cooked pork tenderloin, brisket, hanger steak.

Cheers,

Jack

Jack,
Why not just hold the brisket with your left hand cut with the yanagiba so slices come off to the right? I.E., how you do it with your suji.

Edit: I know I'm missing something here I'm just not sure what.

phan1
02-01-2013, 05:54 AM
Yanagi is really only for sashimi and I think makes a terrible all-round slicer. Some of these yanagiba are really THICK too. But I'm never against experimenting with yanagi and trying it out. It's defnitely less versatile as a Suji though.

Yoni Lang
02-01-2013, 12:31 PM
Totally agree along time ago used suji's to cut sashimi,when I got my first Yanagi it was much superior for sashimi & sushi topping,hardly ever used sugi's again. For Maki rolls,inside out rolls,thin carbon lazor gyuto rule IMO.

Now I am retired can't give up my yanagi completely used a smaller 240 as utility knife,had to put a micro bevel as the edge would suffer.It turned a dark patina because I was cutting all sorts of stuff wt. it.I recently sold my beloved Suisin 270 white steel to a coworker who is cutting all the fish these days.At least it is getting used again.

yeah... yanagi for anything other than sashimi is sort of like taking a ferrari for a test drive in a school zone.. no point and probably just end up hurting something/someone.. i've been considering a suisin.. you talking about a gyuto? i'm considering something like that.. or just a sugimoto and then splurge on a del ealy.. those things are the sex

jackslimpson
02-01-2013, 12:56 PM
Jack,
Why not just hold the brisket with your left hand cut with the yanagiba so slices come off to the right? I.E., how you do it with your suji.

Edit: I know I'm missing something here I'm just not sure what.

That is a good question, especially since I'm using the yanagi for something it's not meant to be used for anyway. But it is my understanding, based on observation, that the hollow side is supposed to face the slice to the left on a right-handed yanagi, while the bevel side faces the thing being sliced. I've never seen anyone using a right-handed yanagi with the hollow side facing the thing sliced, while the bevel faces the right where the slices fall away. I was constrained by this. I don't have this problem with smaller things like pork tenderloin and chicken -- those I can slice pretty much like sashimi. I'll try it the other way, and see what happens. Of course, it makes so much sense and is so obvious, I'll likely feel pretty stupid when it works perfectly.

Cheers,

Jack

Patatas Bravas
02-01-2013, 12:58 PM
I think that the opinions and techicality here are so far very interesting. Thank you!

mhlee
02-01-2013, 01:04 PM
yeah... yanagi for anything other than sashimi is sort of like taking a ferrari for a test drive in a school zone.. no point and probably just end up hurting something/someone.. i've been considering a suisin.. you talking about a gyuto? i'm considering something like that.. or just a sugimoto and then splurge on a del ealy.. those things are the sex

A yanagi is not just for sashimi. It's the most effective knife to skin fish I've ever used. I've seen itused in Japan for this purpose, and also seen Japanese fish cutting books that show it being used to fillet certain fish.

Zwiefel
02-01-2013, 01:23 PM
That is a good question, especially since I'm using the yanagi for something it's not meant to be used for anyway. But it is my understanding, based on observation, that the hollow side is supposed to face the slice to the left on a right-handed yanagi, while the bevel side faces the thing being sliced. I've never seen anyone using a right-handed yanagi with the hollow side facing the thing sliced, while the bevel faces the right where the slices fall away. I was constrained by this. I don't have this problem with smaller things like pork tenderloin and chicken -- those I can slice pretty much like sashimi. I'll try it the other way, and see what happens. Of course, it makes so much sense and is so obvious, I'll likely feel pretty stupid when it works perfectly.

Cheers,

Jack


I have never even touched a single-bevel knife...but I thought the ura was supposed to be facing the big piece and the bevel was supposed to face the new slice and allow it to fall off the blade face.

Jon, care to weigh in?

mpukas
02-01-2013, 01:54 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKnhOGc68YY

ThEoRy
02-01-2013, 01:57 PM
You can also slice with the product on the right. You can get thinner slices with the ura releasing the sliced product.

mpukas
02-01-2013, 02:00 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCz2RkmtWYM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FSIn3i1GQU

Zwiefel
02-01-2013, 02:04 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKnhOGc68YY

Fantastic find! Looks like they have their own youtube channel...I can see what I'm going to "waste" a few hours on this weekend :)

jackslimpson
02-01-2013, 02:22 PM
Well, there you have it. Those videos are great. They just prove my theory: Jack, you don't know jack.

Cheers,

Jack

Zwiefel
02-01-2013, 02:40 PM
Well, there you have it. Those videos are great. They just prove my theory: Jack, you don't know jack.

Cheers

Jack

Heh, that reminds me of the old SNL/Norm McDonald bit, "which just goes to prove my theory: Germans love David Hasslehoff."

JBroida
02-01-2013, 04:12 PM
Fantastic find! Looks like they have their own youtube channel...I can see what I'm going to "waste" a few hours on this weekend :)

did i never post the videos here?

Zwiefel
02-01-2013, 06:12 PM
did i never post the videos here?

Not that I saw. You guys did good work on them though.

JBroida
02-01-2013, 06:18 PM
whoops... my bad. Sorry about that. Hopefully people here find them helpful. I'll put together a post with all of the videos in it in just a bit...

Andrew H
02-01-2013, 07:58 PM
Well, there you have it. Those videos are great. They just prove my theory: Jack, you don't know jack.

Cheers,

Jack

Haha, now you can try it out and have the ultimate test: does it work well?


whoops... my bad. Sorry about that. Hopefully people here find them helpful. I'll put together a post with all of the videos in it in just a bit...

I was almost sure you did; that's why I was wondering what Jack was talking about.
Here: http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/3220-Introducing-Japanese-Knife-Society

Zwiefel
02-01-2013, 08:06 PM
Ah....that's from well before I found you guys...and something I missed when I skimmed through the archives.

Cool to have it bubble up again though!

Yoni Lang
02-02-2013, 02:15 PM
A yanagi is not just for sashimi. It's the most effective knife to skin fish I've ever used. I've seen itused in Japan for this purpose, and also seen Japanese fish cutting books that show it being used to fillet certain fish.

definitely not to say yanagiba should only be used for sashimi.. i used to use mine for numerous things, but found that switching over to a suji for most of those tasks made things a little easier for me.. personal preference i guess.. my sushi master told me yesterday that he uses his yanagiba for many tasks.. so knife handling skill plays a big part too.

keithsaltydog
02-02-2013, 03:46 PM
yeah... yanagi for anything other than sashimi is sort of like taking a ferrari for a test drive in a school zone.. no point and probably just end up hurting something/someone.. i've been considering a suisin.. you talking about a gyuto? i'm considering something like that.. or just a sugimoto and then splurge on a del ealy.. those things are the sex

No the Suisin was a 270 Yanagi,now it's back cutting Sashimi & Sushi topping again.I also have a Suisin Usuba,I'm a little twisted love cutting wt. the Usuba,even though it gets stuck in my endgrain board wt. lite pressure.Something about SB carbon steel they are specialized,they worked so well for me they were & still are my prized knives.I guess somewhat of a passion,my favorite blades to sharpen as well.

I aways kept a damp towel on one side top edge of board to wipe thin carbon Gyuto which worked so well for many types of prep where clean perfect cuts are required.

jackslimpson
02-04-2013, 03:43 PM
Ok, so, as the topic is whether a Yanagiba is useful as an all-purpose slicer, I'll report back to the thread with some experience. I have a Yoshihiro White #2 Yanagiba, 270mm, with Shitan handle. It looks great, and is easy to sharpen. I used it to slice thin slices of cooked brisket this weekend. I had no problem, but the length of the draw relative to the width of the brisket. I sliced with my right hand, with the bevel facing right, where the slices fell away. Worked like a charm. I was conscious of having to control steering that I don't think I'd experience with a sujihiki or other 50/50 bevel slicer. Anyway, it worked well. More importantly, it looked cool to my guests.

Cheers,

Jack