What Is A Deba Knife Used For?

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If you are interested in collecting Japanese knives or love to use them, then you should not miss Deba knives.

The Deba is a sturdy and wide Japanese-style kitchen knife with a thick spine and a sharp blade edge that is pointed at the tip.

It is traditionally used for cleaning, filleting, and beheading whole fish, although its sturdiness and weight mean that it’s commonly used for breaking down poultry and other meat with small bones as well.

What is it?

The literal meaning of the word “Deba” is “pointed carving knife”.

Here it is worth mentioning that Deba is not a Western-style carving knife and the structure is not like the traditional carving and slicing knives.

So you cannot expect thin blades like the western carving knives.

The tip of these knives is quite sharp while the belly is wider.

Why would you need one?

The most common use is for the cutting of the fish.

It helps in carrying out all the cutting tasks from beheading, filleting, and cutting of the fish bones.

As we know that fish is often sticky and needs extra care and handling which is only possible with the knife of the sharp edges.

It is used for efficient cutting including all of its toughest parts.

If you keenly observe the structure, you will come to know that it has various parts that combine together and perform the function of cutting.

Let’s break each element down.

  • If you want to cut the head and tail, you should use the heel portion.
  • It will efficiently remove the head and the tail without hurting other parts.
  • As we know that there are various spines present in the fish, so the tip is used to identify the fragile meat without hurting it.
  • Before you proceed with the cutting process, you should use the tip to feel whether or not it has spikes or not in the specific region.
  • When it comes to slicing, filleting, and removing the skin of the fish, you should use the wider portion of the blade that will help you in getting rid of scales and fish skin.

If you were previously using the chef knife or the Western-style knife for the cutting, you should know that it is quite different in structure from the other knives.

The Deba has a large, wide, extended belly and a sharp blade that is perfect for the cutting of all kinds of seafood.

The blade of a dinner knife makes it the ideal choice when slicing cooked fish as well.

If you keep it with the cooked fish dishes, the diners and party-attendants will enjoy cutting thin slices of fish pieces without difficulty.

With it, you can enjoy eating sushi and other Japanese foods with maximum ease.

Different types available

The blade length is usually up to 21 cm, however, Japanese professional cooks recommend the use of longer blades such as 24 cm.

But still, if you are going to buy the knife for domestic purposes, you should opt for the 21 cm long blade.

According to the Naifu Blog, there are basically four different types of Deba knives and Japanese manufacturers have used the unique method of classification.

The names of these types also resemble the Japanese terms and colloquial tone.


This is the type that resembles in structure with the western knives.

It is due to this reason many American people opt for these knives and purchase them from Japanese manufacturers.


This one has a thin blade as compared to the other types.

The blade is specifically designed for filleting purposes.


It is a medium-sized blade that you can use for the cutting and slicing of medium-sized fish.


It is the smallest version that is used for the slicing, filleting, and scale removal of small fishes and other tiny sea creatures.

Care and maintenance tips

To ensure the long life of the Deba knives, you should wash them with soap and water after each use.

Moreover, you should store them in a wooden block that will not only keep their blades safe but also prevent yours from rusting.

The Bottom Line

Deba is the type of Japanese knife that has gained immense popularity in Western culture as well.

So if you need a Japanese tool for fish cutting purposes, a Deba should be your number 1 choice.

Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by Andy Wang

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.