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Thread: Exploring the Kiritsuke

  1. #11
    So I guess I didn't make me self clear or something, but anyway here goes. I still have to see a video where someone uses a yanagi to peel a daikon, if you try it you will see that it is close to impossible to get a even sheet of daikon due to the yanagis curve and short height it wedges like crazy. An usuba is used to make traditional Japanese cuts, Japanese being the key word here. I really don't understand what the whole deal with the kiritsuke being misunderstood and impractical is. Unless you are doing traditional Japanese cuts I don't see why anyone would use one.

  2. #12
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    memorael, I think the look of the knife makes it so desired even if u cant use it. I am a total sucker for that shape. I think it is the best looking shape of all knives even if it isnt anywhere near the best knife shape to actually use.

  3. #13
    Senior Member Seth's Avatar
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEjt3...g1hcl2d5uW8JMl

    My yanagis have enough flat to do this......

  4. #14
    Senior Member Seth's Avatar
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    Maybe I need to restate my OP as well. There are two parts: the historical question which is whether the Kiritsuke was really developed as a hybrid or is there a 16th century version, for example, of this profile as a knife in its own right. Secondly, when I put my thinking cap on, I see a the kiritsuke as a piece of steel with a sharp edge so what can it do? My experience to this point is that it does usuba as well as usuba and it does yani almost as well as yani. It raises the question as to whether there is something inherent in this profile that has shortcomings or does this knife deserve the chance of technique practice (of course it does).

    Comments:
    Cuisine specific is not an issue in my mind - I think more task specific. Needle cuts a great for garnish in western cooking. Slicing a pork loin is slicing a pork loin; sujis, yanagibas, and kiritsukes all produce good results.

    tk59's comment is a bit of a generalization I think; my 240 has the same height at the heel as two of my yanis, is thinner than my 210 usuba, does not have a straight edge, and does not destroy product. It is not that I think necessarily that the kiritsuke is a go-to knife and I am not trying to sell anyone on this idea, but like the title of this post, I am exploring. In the end this is clearly personal choice but I wonder why this knife often gets a negative response. I also feel compelled to give all my knives a workout to discover for myself why the designs came about.

    ~s

  5. #15
    one reason for all of this confusion is that often times kiritsuke yanagiba are mislabled at kiritsuke (ergo the same blade height as a yanagiba). However, Kiritsuke are traditionally taller than yanagiba by a noticable degree. I've discussed the development of these knives with a couple of well respected knife makers in sakai and they have confirmed for me that it is indeed a hybrid. In talking with chefs in Japan about the knife, all of them confirmed that is was a knife used as a convienience, so they could use 1 instead of 2. As a yanagiba, the blade height causes it is to a little more sticky with foods (greater surface area). Also, the extra bulk of the knife makes it a bit more difficult to use effectively. Likewise, some kiritsuke have less curve to them than a yanaigba might, making a smooth slicing motion a bit odd. As an usuba the blade length can sometimes be an issue (the most common size is 270mm, but you see 300 a lot too). Again, a bit unwieldy. As i mentioned before, some kiritsuke have less curve, however some also have more. For ones with more curve, certain techniques on an usuba can be odd.

    I've always brought in 240mm kiritsuke because, in my experience, people arent using them as intended anyways... they use them more as chef knives. 240mm is a much easier size for that. But when i get a serious japanese chef in asking for a kiritsuke (few and far between), they tend to want 270-300mm.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    It all depends on your definition and understanding of the word "Multi-purpose" it doesn't mean "All-purpose". Like I said before I've never thought of it as a gyuto replacement, and when used to cover the things an Usuba and Yanagiba would do then a Kiritsuke is very effective, efficient, and multi-purpose tool.
    I'm not sure what sort of response your comment was meant to ellicit. It seems to me that my post is in complete agreement with yours.

  7. #17
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    I guess I was thinking of the difference between multi-purpose and all purpose as you wrote. And no matter how thin you get say suji it won't ever perform the same for slicing fish for sashimi or in general than a yanagiba, or even a kiritsuke.


    Also no attempt to elicit anything

  8. #18
    Senior Member Seth's Avatar
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    Jon,
    Thanks for your helpful reply. Clearly there is no choice but for me and Sarge to create a non-profit, The American Kiritsuke Society, for the protection of abused kiritsukes. Also a note of thanks for the videos you produce which I find to be the best out there for technique and sharpening.
    Seth

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Seth View Post
    Jon,
    Thanks for your helpful reply. Clearly there is no choice but for me and Sarge to create a non-profit, The American Kiritsuke Society, for the protection of abused kiritsukes. Also a note of thanks for the videos you produce which I find to be the best out there for technique and sharpening.
    Seth
    Haha... no problem... glad to be of service

  10. #20
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    Sounds like a plan.

    Seth, I think if you want to give one a try and realize that even as a multi-purpose knife it is still very specialized then you'll probably end up really enjoying a Kiritsuke. If you go into it understanding there are limitations and things you'll probably not be disappointed and worst case find that you should either devote more time to it or sell it.

    And as someone already stated I don't know why but aesthetically for me atleast it really is the best looking shape for a knife.

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