Shun Yanagiba Knife Review

There are so many different knives available on the market and there are many that I have never used. For years I only used chef, carving, paring and bread knives. Those were great, but lately I have had the opportunity to try some specialized knives and have come to greatly appreciate knives designed for a specific purpose.

Shun knives are my favorite blades on the market. I love them! They are regarded as some of the highest quality blades available, being used by both professional chefs and home cooks. Shun knives are a Japanese style blade and they have a wide range of knives for virtually every kitchen task. Recently, Shun sent me their yanagiba knife to test out and was I ever excited! 

The yanagiba is a specialized sashimi knife that is used for slicing raw fish. The blade is built to ensure smooth slicing so that there is no tearing or ripping of the sashimi grade fish. The yanigiba is both long and very sharp so that it allows the fish to be sliced thinly and with one motion.  While these knives have been popular in Japan, and with sashimi chefs around the world for many years, there is a growing popularity of the yanagiba knife with Western chefs for carving roasts and poultry.

shun yanagiba Knife Review

The yanagiba knife is sharpened only on one side, meaning the blade is tapered in on just one side of the steel. This is an 8 1/4 inch knife and, while there are longer yanagibas available, this one was plenty long enough for me. Shun also sell 9 1/2 and 10 1/2 inch yanagiba blades.

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The other side of the blade is concave and used as a hollow grind to pocket air and assist in cutting. This design allows for more efficient slicing of raw fish and results in a flat clean slice which is perfect for the visual presentation of sashimi and sushi.

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The handle of the yanagiba is made of wood and has a comfortable shape. Slicing fish is a delicate and graceful process compared to the rapid chopping of vegetables but the handle has such a solid form that it could support either.

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To test out the yanagiba, I purchased a large filet of sockeye salmon. The filet had the skin on, so that needed to be removed first, and then the salmon was going to be cut into cubes to smoke into nuggets.

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To remove the skin, I first cut into the fish at the tip, slicing the meat away from the skin.

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The yanagiba worked extremely well and it was almost an effortless task.

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This was the first time that I have ever removed the skin from a full filet of salmon. There is definitely a learning curve to slicing it smoothly and getting all the meat off the skin, but I think I did fairly well. The yanagiba knife definitely made the process far easier than any other knife I have in my knife block.

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Once the salmon meat was removed from the skin, it was ready to be sliced into cubes. First, I sliced strips of salmon that were about 1 inch wide. The slicing was so easy and the blade cut through the fish with almost no pressure. I did it with one motion, starting the blade away from me and pulling it while the blade sliced through the salmon.

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With each slice, I then cut them into cubes that were about 1 inch. The yanagiba was so effective at making very clean and smooth slices. There was no ripping and tearing any time. This blade is incredible and it is no surprise that sashimi chefs love this for slicing raw fish. From now on, this will be the only knife I use for fish, and I may even try it for carving a roast. I am sure that it would be an effective knife for carving, although I will want to make sure that it is a boneless roast, so that the blade does not need to deal with hitting bones. I will protect this knife! Love it!

Buy this knife or many of the other blades made by Shun at Amazon – Shun Store

Disclaimer: Shun provided me with the yanagiba knife. They did not pay me for this product review and the views expressed above are my honest reactions after trying them.


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