The Deba is a heavy knife that was designed to filet and butcher whole fish. It is considerably thicker and heavier than other Japanese blades, which allows it to be used almost like a cleaver to cut through the heads and bones of fish. But, its small pointed tip is very agile, which also allows it to efficiently separate flesh from skin and bone, producing narrow clean fillets.
Debas are an essential tool in a sushi chef’s kitchen, or anywhere, in general, that handles fish. The name Deba translates to “short fat tooth,” meaning that it’s a critical component for filleting and butchering any kind of fish or meat. Traditional Japanese Deba knives were only used for fish, but they are increasingly becoming more popular among western chefs who especially like to use them to portion off whole chickens and turkeys.
But… Don’t let their hefty weight fool you, in the right hands, Debas are incredibly nimble and precise tools that can handle almost any culinary task!