Come by and sashimi sometime before I go under the knife?

Area. Force. Pressure. And the sharp secrets of the yanagi-ba.


yanagi-ba - Fresh Salmon Sashimi with Sashimi Knife.

1-Minute Marvels

Good sashimi must not only be fresh, it must also look and be cleanly and smoothly cut. Just imagine being served a plate of ragged sashimi and we very quickly begin to doubt the quality of the sashimi. Sashimi thus needs to go under a super sharp knife.

food mostly cuts easily

A knife cuts food when the pressure applied on the food tears and splits the food apart (read all about why foods can tear and split easily in the 1-Minute Marvels “Slice slice baby!”).  This pressure depends on the equation:

Pressure = Force/Area

We exert a “Force” on the knife which is then applied on the “Area” that the knife’s edge is in contact with the food.  The thinner the edge of the knife, the smaller this “Area”, and the sharper the knife is.

The yanagi-ba is an example of a super shape knife and is the knife of choice of sashimi chefs (see video above).  It has a very thin blade edge. The force is applied on a narrower area. The pressure is thus much greater and cuts through more easily, cleanly and smoothly.

“Yanagi” means “willow” in Japanese (written as 柳刃) so “yanagi-ba” is literally “willow blade”. It was so named because the blade resembled the shape of the willow leaf!

Shirakawa canal in Kyoto KYOTO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 18: Shirakawa Canal in Kyoto, Japan on November 19, 2013. The canal is lined by willow trees, restaurants and ochaya, many of which have rooms overlooking the canal

Willow trees in Japan – the yanagi-ba resembles the willow leaf

Feed Me!

Have you ever tried a yagani-ba before? Or seen someone wield it? Tell us your experiences and what you saw in the comments below!


Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 6.02.39 pmLike this? Come by and sashimi every day by liking me to discover more. All you need is a minute a day to explore the world’s marvels through the phenomenon of food!


photos: in order – istockphoto/4kodiak; depositphotos/tommasolizzullabradorcowardlion



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