Best Japanese Knife for Filleting Fish
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY FOR DETAILS.
A Japanese fillet life gives your knife set a boost of elegance and class. Keep reading to find the top knives in the market right now.
In search of a great Deba knife? Also known as the best Japanese knife for filleting fish, the Deba knife comes in a variety of sizes, and is specially shaped to make it easy to create perfect fillets. Thicker and stouter than traditional western fish fillet knives.
Many of these knives feature single beveled edges and flat back or slightly concave sides. Some models are sharpened on both sides (dual beveled) to accommodate left- and right-handed users and allow for other chopping tasks, and some single beveled Deba knives are designed for use only by left-handed individuals.
Quick Look at Our Top Picks:
#1 Global Cromova G-21 Knife
Like other knives in the Global product line, this one features a blade made with Cromova 18 stainless steel, which includes a high-tech blend of molybdenum and vanadium for lasting quality. The stainless steel handle is designed for sanitary use as well as a safe, comfortable grip; its textured surface also adds a unique, contemporary appearance.
The 7-inch blade has a single bevel; it easily works its way through small to medium size fish as well as a variety of popular vegetables.
- Razor sharp blade; holds its edge very well
- Very easy cleanup
- Utilitarian appearance
- Handle feels very lightweight
This Knife is Ideal For:
If you’re not terribly concerned about knives having a traditional appearance and you’re interested in easy cleanup and maintenance, then you are likely to appreciate everything about the Global G-7 knife. Besides being among the best Japanese knives for filleting fish, it lends itself to a variety of uses in the kitchen; users often state that it’s one of their favorite knives.
#2 Kai 6715D Wasabi Black Deba Knife, 6-Inch
The 6715D Kai Wasabi Deba knife features a six-inch blade made with daido 1k6 high-carbon stainless steel, which has been bead-blasted to create a smooth, attractive finish while providing ultra-thin slices and perfect fillets.
The D-shaped handle is made with resin-impregnated pakkawood, which offers a beautiful appearance and sanitary, easy-clean utility. Its blade is beveled on one side only, making it suitable for right-handed users. Stamped with the Japanese character for Wasabi, it makes an attractive addition to your kitchen. This knife is made in Japan.
- Exceptional sharpness
- Good balance
- Not as fancy as some other Japanese Deba knives; fairly utilitarian appearance
- Feels a little lighter than some comparatively sized knives
This Knife is Ideal For:
If you are looking for a combination of quality and affordability, the Kai Wasabi Deba knife is likely to appeal to you. At just 6 inches, the blade may be a bit too short to deal with very large fish, however it will easily handle small and medium fish with ease. At well under $100, it makes a budget-friendly choice.
#3 Kai Seki Magoroku Kinju ST Japanese Deba Knife 180mm (AK-1103)
The Kai Seki Magoroku Kinju ST Japanese Deba knife is made with molybdenum / vanadium stainless steel, and features an attractive laminated wood handle in a traditional octagonal configuration. This knife is made in Japan, and its blade is embellished with Japanese characters for an attractive appearance. The 180mm (7-inch) blade is ideal for filleting small to medium fish.
- Traditional appearance
- Excellent sharpness
- Feels a little heavier than some other Deba knives
- Has a plastic end cap that looks a little cheap compared to steel
This Knife is Ideal For:
If you want a traditional-looking Japanese fish fillet knife at an affordable price, then this may be the best choice for your needs. Ultra-sharp and capable of holding an edge, it is used by a number of professionals, who report that it does a fantastic job with fish and vegetables alike. At well under $100, it is an economical choice.
#4 Shun Pro 8-1/4” Deba Knife
Designed specifically for filleting fish, the Shun Pro 8-1/4” Deba knife is also ideal for slicing beef and poultry, and can even be used for slicing vegetables. Made from VG-10 high-carbon steel, it features a wide blade with a single bevel for precise cuts. Its pakkaood handle is in a classic D shape, and is finished with an attractive stainless steel endcap. This knife is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
- Easily cuts off fish heads with no need for rocking or pressure.
- Very attractive appearance
- Slightly thinner spine than some other Deba knives
- Proper maintenance takes a little time
This Knife is Ideal For:
Consumers who love Shun knives are typically very pleased with this one, as are professional chefs and cooks. While the high-carbon steel requires special care (absolutely no trips through the dishwasher, plus proper sharpening), demanding cooks find the effort is well worthwhile. If you are looking for an excellent knife that produces quality results every time, this may be the best one for you.
#5 Shun TDM0774 Premier Gokujo Boning and Fillet Knife, 6”
Designed specifically for boning and filleting fish, the Shun TDM0774 Gokujo knife offers premium quality for a lifetime of exceptional service. The Damascus-style blade features a proprietary VG-Max cutting core and is clad with 64 layers of stainless steel for good corrosion resistance.
It has been hand-sharpened with a 16-degree cutting angle on each side, and features a hammered Tsuchime finish that releases food during cutting while contributing to its elegant appearance. The Walnut Pakkawood handle offers a secure, comfortable grip for both left- and right-handed users. A stainless steel end cap provides an attractive finishing touch. This knife is covered by Shun’s limited lifetime warranty.
- Fits right and left handed users
- Both stylish and functional
- Hand wash only
- No sheath included
This Knife is Ideal For:
Serious, demanding cooks are likely to find that the Shun Premier Gokujo is the best Japanese knife for filleting fish and completing a variety of other important tasks.
While it does come at a slightly higher price than some others, it offers a number of appealing features that make it both useful and attractive; its performance is highly rated, including by executive chefs. If quality is the most important criteria in your decision-making process, then this knife is sure to appeal to you.
Key Considerations: Best Japanese Knife for Filleting Fish
How to choose the best Japanese knife for filleting fish? Personal taste has some bearing on your decision, as do the following considerations. This specialty knife is one of the most important ones in your collection, and when you take a little time to make a careful choice, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful fillets that impress your family and guests.
- Origin – The best Japanese knife for filleting fish is quite likely to come from Japan; just keep in mind that some American and European manufacturers are also producing good-quality Deba knives.
- Quality of Materials – While some Japanese fish fillet knives are made from stainless steel, many others are neither stainless nor stain resistant. Traditional steel does require proper care to prevent rusting, and if rust does appear, it can be removed if done promptly.
- Handle – Traditional Japanese Deba knives have round or octagonal handles, usually made of wood. Other options are available as well. If the knife arrives with an unfinished handle, you may want to use a light coat of clear sealant to make maintenance easier; this is a choice that is completely up to you.
- Length – The longer your knife, the larger the fish you’ll be able to fillet, and the larger the cuts of meat you’ll be able to handle. If you tend to work with a variety of different-sized fish, then you may want to select Deba knives in different sizes. The average is six to eight inches.
- Price – It’s no surprise that the best Japanese knife for filleting fish isn’t exactly cheap. The good news is that with proper care, this knife can last you a lifetime and even be passed down to the next generation. Get the best knife your budget can handle, even if it means you have to save up a bit. Because of the delicate nature of the tasks you’ll be using it for, quality should be your first concern. A cheap, poorly made knife is a waste of money as it can ruin your fish and meat, and lead to feelings of frustration.
With these and other considerations in mind, we’ve tested dozens of the best Japanese fish fillet knives, and we’ve scoured thousands of reviews in order to save you time and effort. Here, we present five options to meet your needs for the best Japanese knife for filleting fish.
How to Use a Deba Knife
Whether you’re using your Deba knife to fillet fish or deal with raw meat, you’ll find that the proper technique makes a difference. Using the following tips will help you to get the most from your Japanese fish fillet knife:
- Don’t chop: Many kitchen tasks call for up and down chopping motions. The Deba knife, however, is designed to be used in a sliding motion. Don’t force the knife’s blade down through the fish or meat; instead, allow it to glide sideways. If you are using a single-bevel knife, the material you are cutting will cleave off to one side in a single, graceful motion.
- Aim for a 45-degree angle: Look at your chopping board or fish fillet board, and aim the tip of your knife up so that it is at a 45 degree angle. Allow the tip to drop to a lower angle as you move the knife through the meat or fish.
- Pull with smooth action: Use a smooth, sliding motion to pull the knife’s blade through the fish or meat. So long as your blade is long enough, you should be able to get even, nicely sized fillets without ever having to saw back and forth or cut through the same area more than once.
- Maintain your knife: You’ve gone to great lengths to choose the best Japanese knife for filleting fish, but even the very best blades will soon become dull and even rusty without proper care. Always hand-wash and dry your knife immediately after use, and be sure to protect the edge during storage so that nothing bumps the steel. Sharpen your knife frequently, preferably before it starts to feel dull.
With these tips, you’ll find it easier to prepare delicious, beautiful meals and ensure that your knife continues to perform well as the years go by. We wish you success in your next culinary adventure!
More Easy Recipes
If you enjoyed this fish fileting guide, then here are some recipes to practice your new skills.