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Purchasing Japanese kitchen knives can be a costly undertaking, especially considering that there is a different Japanese knife for almost every process in the kitchen. You may want to figure out which knives can double for a similar Japanese knife in the kitchen in order to limit your expenditure. The Honesuki and Petty are both fairly small knives in the range, so what is the difference between these two knives, and can they do the same work?
A Honesuki is typically slightly larger than a Petty and is thicker and heavier. The Honesuki is intended for parting out poultry, cutting meat off the bone, and trimming cuts of meat. The Petty is lighter, thinner, and intended for more delicate work preparing garnishes, herbs, fruit, and vegetables.
The Japanese are very particular a purposeful with their manufacturing and put a lot of attention into the detail that makes a knife suitable for a particular function in the kitchen or not.
Despite this, there are some Japanese knives that can have multiple uses in the kitchen and have some crossover in the roles that they can perform. Are the Honesuki and the Petty similar enough to be able to substitute for each other?
If you are interested in checking out the best Japanese knives (made by Hayate Yoshihiro) we recommend and use you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
What Is A Honesuki Knife Used For?
In order to compare the Honesuki and the Petty, we need to examine each type of knife and understand the characteristics of the blade of both knives and their original intention before we can decide if they can swap roles in the kitchen.
The Honesuki knife has a very distinct shape to it, being very triangular. The cutting edge of the knife is very straight, with little to no belly or curvature to the blade on the sharp edge.
The spine of the Honesuki is very straight and tapering at a steep angle towards the tip of the knife, which generally has a clip-point tip.
The Honesuki is a fairly thin, lightweight knife, but still with a very tough, durable, extremely sharp cutting edge. The main purpose of the design of this knife is to cut the meat off the bones of poultry carcasses.
The strong clip-point design of the tip allows the point of the knife to get into the joints of the bird to be able to sever the connective tissue in the joints and thus part out the bird. The length of a Honesuki normally varies between 6-inches and 8.3-inches.
The Honesuki Intended Purpose
The Honesuki name actually means “bone knife,” which alludes to the intended purpose of the blade design. However, the blade does not have the durability or weight to be used to cut through the bones of the poultry carcass.
The blade is strong enough to not chip if it comes into contact with a bone while it is being used to cut the meat off the bone, but it should never be used to try and cut through any bones in meat or poultry.
This function is best left to knives that have a heavier and thicker blade for this purpose, such as a western Deba or even a cleaver.
Using your Honesuki to cut through bone, even the relatively softer poultry bones, is a sure way to ruin the edge on your knife. Using the knife in this way will cause the thin hard edge to chip, crack or have gouges taken out of it and will require a professional repair.
The Honesuki is not only used to dissect or part out poultry, but it is also often used to cut other meat off the bone and to slice blocks of previously deboned meat into smaller pieces.
The ability and nimble nature of these knives to process boneless meat are what makes them the go-to knife for chefs who prepare yakitori, which is marinated, bite-size chunks of chicken, meat, or seafood that is cooked and presented on skewers.
TIP: The Gokujo is another type of knife that is often compared to the Honesuki. To know more about the differences between these two knives, click on the article below.
Honesuki Vs. Gokujo: Is There A Real Difference?
What A Honesuki Is Not Good For
Honesuki knives can be used for very limited vegetable preparation. They can be used for any vegetable that is soft enough to slice soft such as tomatoes but does not work very well as a chopping knife for vegetables.
This is because the cutting edge is very straight, which does not lend itself to the rocking chopping action that chefs like to use to chop vegetables. A Honesuki is not a good vegetable processing knife.
The Honesuki knives very often come with a single bevel grind, which makes the knives a little more difficult to take care of and maintain or sharpen the edge.
If you get a Honesuki and it is indicated as a single bevel knife, make sure you are knowledgeable regarding how to take care of the edge of a single bevel knife before going ahead with the purchase.
If you are interested in buying a high-quality Honesuki knife we recommend checking out this knife made by the Torijo company (Amazon link).
What Is A Petty Knife Used For?
Now that we have some insight about the intended purpose for the Honesuki and the characteristics of the blade of that knife, we need to examine the petty in the same way for a good comparison.
The Petty is the Japanese version of what is known in a western kitchen as a utility knife or paring knife. The petty can vary in size quite significantly from 3.5-inches to 8.3-inches. The most popular length Petty knife is in the range of 6-inches to 8-inches.
The Design Of The Petty
The Petty is a compact, relatively short knife, and the blade is normally thinner and lighter than the Honesuki, even though they can be of similar size.
The blade of the Petty is also much narrower than the Honesuki and does not have the dramatic triangular shape that is definitive of the Honesuki.
The blade design of the Petty knife means that it is easily controllable, very nimble, and perfect for making precise smaller cuts. The Petty is the knife that is more often used when small, delicate work on the cutting board is required.
BTW: If you want to know more about Japanese and other knives and their sharpening, check out the books listed above. These books are recommended by professional sharpeners and knife makers (Amazon links):
- Japanese Kitchen Knives: Essential Techniques and Recipes
- The Knifenerd Guide to Japanese Knives
- Knife: The Culture, Craft, and Cult of the Cook’s Knife
- Sharp: The Definitive Introduction to Knives, Sharpening, and Cutting Techniques, with Recipes from Great Chefs
How The Petty Is Used
The blade of the Petty is not long enough or thick enough to be particularly adept for taking meat off the bone or severing joints on a chicken. The most a Petty can accomplish in the meat department is slicing up a few smaller pieces of already deboned meat.
Where the Petty comes into its own is in the delicate work of preparing garnishes and preparing and processing herbs, fruits, and vegetables. This included peeling, cutting, chopping, and delicate decorative work as well.
The cutting edge of the Petty knife has a slight curve to it which allows for the rocking chopping motion to be used with this knife to chop herbs and vegetables.
The Petty can be used to slice fish, meat, and poultry that have already been deboned using one of the other Japanese knives more appropriate for this task.
If you are interested in buying a high-quality Petty knife we recommend checking out this knife made by the Yoshihiro company (Amazon link).
TIP: One common question that is asked about the construction of Japanese knives and whether they have a bolster or not. Find out the answer in the article below:
Do Japanese Knives Have A Bolster? Here’s The Answer
Can A Petty Or A Honesuki Replace Each Other?
A Petty cannot be used for the main purpose for which a Honesuki is designed, which is processing poultry. It simply does not have the design features in size, weight, tip, and thickness that are conducive to this type of work.
Using a Petty for work that you should be using a Honesuki for will most likely result in damaging the tip of the knife or the cutting edge.
A Honesuki is designed with processing poultry in mind and can be used to process chunks of meat and fish into smaller slices or chunks as well.
The design of the blade on a Honesuki will make it difficult to use this knife to peel vegetables and to chop herbs and vegetables.
If you have tight budget constraints and can only afford to get one of these knives, we would recommend opting for the Honesuki, since you can replace the petty in the kitchen with a western-style paring knife which will be able to perform most of the tasks that a Petty is intended for. A western paring knife will also be significantly cheaper than a Japanese Petty.
If you can afford to get both, then get both the Honesuki and the Petty; they will be a joy to use n the kitchen in the roles that they are intended for!
TIP: Do you know that there are single bevel and double bevel knives? If you’re wondering what’s the difference between them, feel free to read the article below!