Katsuramuki: The Japanese Peeling Technique Perfect For Daikon Radish

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Many Westerners think of peeling a radish or cucumber as a straightforward thing, and they use a traditional vegetable peeler that probably has a plastic handle and a cheap metal blade.

But Japanese chefs undergo extensive training to learn Japanese knife skills and cutting techniques.

Katsuramuki- The Japanese Peeling Technique Perfect For Daikon Radish Strips

Peeling vegetables using the Katsuramuki technique involves using a sharp knife to slice radish, cucumber, or other vegetables in a continuous spiral motion, creating a long, paper-thin sheet that can be used as a decorative garnish or wrapped around other ingredients.

Katsuramuki is just one of the many Japanese cutting techniques, but it’s very important for creating visually appealing food.

This guide explains what the katsuramuki technique is, how it’s done, and what it’s used for by Japanese chefs.

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What is Katsuramuki?

Katsuramuki is a Japanese cutting technique used to create very thin, transparent slices of vegetables such as cucumbers, daikon radish, or carrots. 

Most Japanese people know that Katsuramuki is a Japanese technique where you cut a radish into thin slices and fold them into a garnish.

It’s a very difficult technique to master and requires a lot of practice.

But to be more precise, katsuramuki can also be used to slice cucumbers and other veggies in a spiral motion using a razor-sharp knife. 

Traditionally however, Katsuramuki refers to a Japanese culinary technique used to slice vegetables, particularly daikon radish, into thin, translucent sheets. 

The technique is commonly used in Japanese cuisine for dishes such as sashimi or salads.

To perform the katsuramuki technique, a very sharp and thin-bladed knife called a katsuramuki bocho is used. 

The vegetable is first peeled and then held in one hand while the other hand guides the knife to make a continuous, spiral-cutting motion around the vegetable. 

The goal is to create a long, thin sheet of vegetable that is as uniform as possible in thickness and width.

The resulting slices can be used for a variety of purposes, such as wrapping around sushi or serving as a garnish. 

Katsuramuki requires a lot of practice and skill to master, but it is a beautiful and impressive technique when done correctly.

Katsuramuki is often used in Japanese cuisine to add texture and visual appeal to dishes such as sashimi, salads, and bento boxes. 

It requires skill and practice to master, as the thinness and uniformity of the slices are crucial to the dish’s overall presentation.

Not a big fan of daikon radish? Here are the best daikon radish substitutes that you can try the katsuramuki technique on as well

Katsuramuki chefs cut

Hey there, foodies! Are you ready to learn about the art of katsuramuki?

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with technical jargon. I’ll break it down for you in a way that even your grandma can understand.

So, what is katsuramuki? Well, it’s a Japanese culinary technique where chefs use a special knife to slice vegetables into thin, translucent sheets.

Think of it like peeling an apple but on steroids. These chefs are like kitchen superheroes, wielding their knives with precision and finesse.

Now, let’s talk about the katsuramuki chef’s cut. This is the holy grail of katsuramuki. It’s the perfect slice, so thin you can practically see through it. 

It’s like a work of art, except you can eat it. These chefs are like Michelangelo, but instead of marble, they’re carving vegetables.

But why go through all this trouble? Well, for one, it looks pretty darn cool. But more importantly, it enhances the flavor and texture of the vegetables. 

By slicing them so thin, it allows for more surface area to be exposed, which means more flavor. Plus, the thin slices give the vegetables a delicate, almost silky texture.

So, there you have it, folks. Katsuramuki in a nutshell. 

Next time you’re at a fancy Japanese restaurant and see those thin slices of cucumber or daikon, you can impress your friends with your newfound knowledge. 

What does Katsuramuki mean?

The Japanese word “Katsuramuki” is derived from the Japanese word “katsura,” which means “to peel in a spiral,” and “muki,” which means “to peel.” 

The word simply refers to peeling radishes in a circular motion.

It’s really a type of Japanese decorative cutting and can be used for the art of decorative garnishing, which is called mukimono

How to perform Katsuramuki

Performing katsuramuki requires a lot of practice and skill, but here is a general overview of the steps involved:

  1. Choose a vegetable: Katsuramuki is typically done with long, cylindrical vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, or daikon radish. Cucumber is the easiest to do. 
  2. Peel the vegetable: Use a peeler or sharp knife to remove the skin from the vegetable.
  3. Cut a flat edge: Cut a thin slice off the bottom of the vegetable to create a flat surface. This will help stabilize the vegetable during cutting.
  4. Hold the vegetable: Hold the vegetable in your non-dominant hand with your fingers curled under, gripping it at the top.
  5. Make a starting cut: Use the katsuramuki knife to make a shallow cut in the top of the vegetable, angling the blade slightly away from you.
  6. Begin the spiral cut: Keeping the blade angled away from you, use a pulling motion to make a continuous spiral cut down the length of the vegetable. Try to keep the thickness of the slice as consistent as possible.
  7. Adjust the angle: As you spiral down the vegetable, adjust the angle of the blade slightly to ensure that the slice is as thin and uniform as possible.
  8. Adjust the grip: As you near the bottom of the vegetable, adjust your grip to hold it near the base to ensure stability and prevent the vegetable from breaking.
  9. Repeat: Continue making spiral cuts until you have a long, thin sheet of vegetable. If necessary, adjust the thickness of the slices to suit your needs.

Katsuramuki takes time and practice to perfect, so don’t get discouraged if your first attempts aren’t perfect. 

With practice, you’ll be able to create beautiful, delicate slices that are perfect for use in a variety of dishes.

What is the history of Katsuramuki?

The history of katsuramuki is closely tied to the development of Japanese cuisine and the use of vegetables in traditional dishes. 

While the exact origins of the technique are unknown, it is believed to have been developed in the Edo period (1603-1868), when Japanese cuisine underwent significant changes and innovations.

During this time, vegetables became more prominent in Japanese cuisine, particularly in dishes like sashimi, where they were used as a decorative element.

Katsuramuki emerged as a way to create thin, uniform slices of vegetables that could be used to create intricate and beautiful designs.

Over time, the technique became increasingly refined, with chefs striving to create the thinnest and most delicate slices possible.

Today, katsuramuki is considered a highly specialized skill that requires years of training and practice to master.

It is often used in high-end Japanese restaurants and is considered an important part of Japanese culinary culture.

Helpful tools for katsuramuki mastery

The most important thing a chef needs to master the katsuramuki cut is a sharp Japanese knife.

Most chefs prefer a vegetable cutting knife like the single-bevel usuba, also known as a vegetable cleaver. 

This knife has a wide, super sharp carbon steel or stainless steel blade, which makes the circular cutting motion easier to perform. 

While practice makes perfect, there are a few helpful items that can make the process of learning katsuramuki easier and faster.

These include special Japanese vegetable peelers like the Chiba Wig Peeler S Vegetable and Fruit Sheet Slicer.

Step-by-Step guide to using a Katsuramuki peeler

Ready to take your katsuramuki skills to the next level? 

Follow these steps to create beautiful, authentic garnishes with a katsuramuki peeler:

  1. Attach the peeler to the rack by sliding it into the mount.
  2. Press the core of the radish into the hole on the rack.
  3. Lower the peeler’s blade onto the radish and gently rotate the handle.
  4. As you rotate, the peeler will create a thin sheet of radish.
  5. Adjust the lever on the peeler to make the sheet thinner or thicker, as desired.

With practice and the right tools, you’ll be able to master the art of katsuramuki and add a professional touch to your dishes.

So, roll up your sleeves and let the peeling begin!

Prepping your radish for a Katsuramuki makeover

Now that your slicer is set up, it’s time to prep your radish for its transformation. 

Follow these steps:

  • Rinse the radish under water to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Cut off the top and bottom of the radish, creating a flat surface on each end.
  • If needed, use a special Japanese knife to create a tsuma, or decorative cut, on one end of the radish.

Why is Katsuramuki important?

So, Japanese cutting techniques are all about accentuating the look, flavor, and texture of your ingredients by cutting them in a certain way. 

And Katsuramuki is one of those techniques that is specifically used for slicing vegetables into thin, translucent sheets.

Think of it like making vegetable ribbons, but way cooler.

Now, why would you want to slice your veggies like this? Well, for starters, it looks pretty darn impressive. 

But it also helps to improve the texture and flavor of your dish.

By slicing your veggies so thinly, they cook faster and more evenly, resulting in a crisp texture that’s perfect for stir-fries, salads, and pickled dishes.

But Katsuramuki isn’t the only Japanese cutting technique out there. Oh no, my friends.

There’s also Nanamegiri, which is a diagonal cut that’s great for cucumbers, ginger, onions, eggplant, garlic, and green onions. 

And then there’s Usugiri, which is a thin diagonal cut that’s perfect for daikon, cucumber, tomato, eggplant, carrot, and lotus root. 

And let’s not forget about Rangiri, which is a random shape cut that’s great for creating surfaces that cook faster. 

Or how about Kushigatagiri, which is a comb-shaped cut that’s perfect for adding some visual interest to your dish.

And if you want to go really small, there’s Mijingiri, which is a minced cut that’s great for onions, carrots, ginger, and garlic.

So, there you have it, folks. Japanese cutting techniques are all about taking your cooking game to the next level. 

And Katsuramuki is just one of the many techniques that can help you achieve that. So, go forth and slice your veggies like a pro!

Is Katsuramuki a hard knife skill?

Yes, katsuramuki is considered a hard knife skill that requires practice and skill to master.

The technique involves peeling a vegetable, such as a daikon radish or cucumber, into a thin, continuous sheet, which requires great precision and control with the knife. 

The usuba bocho, the specialized Japanese knife used for this technique, has a wide, thin blade that allows for the thin, continuous peeling of the vegetable. 

It can take years of practice to achieve the level of skill needed to perform katsuramuki cutting proficiently, and even experienced chefs continue to hone their technique over time.

So, is it a hard skill to master? Well, let me tell you, it’s not a walk in the park.

It takes some serious knife skills and practice to get those perfect, paper-thin slices. 

You gotta have a steady hand, a sharp knife, and a whole lot of patience. It’s like trying to shave with a razor blade – one wrong move, and you’re in trouble. 

But hey, don’t let that scare you off. With some dedication and practice, you, too, can become a katsuramuki master.

Just don’t blame me if you end up with a few band-aids along the way.

What do you cut using katsuramuki?

Katsuramuki is a traditional Japanese culinary technique primarily used to peel vegetables into paper-thin slices, such as daikon radish and cucumber. 

These slices are often used to create decorative garnishes for dishes or as a base for other ingredients. 

The technique is particularly useful for vegetables with large, tough skins, such as daikon, which can be difficult to prepare using other methods. 

Other vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, can also be peeled using katsuramuki, although it is less common. 

In addition to vegetables, some chefs also use katsuramuki to slice meat or fish into thin, delicate sheets for use in dishes such as sushi or sashimi. 

Here’s a list of foods you can cut using Katsuramuki:

  1. Daikon radish
  2. Cucumber
  3. Carrots (usually thin and small)
  4. Potatoes (usually thin and small)
  5. Turnips (usually thin and small)
  6. Apples (usually for decorative purposes)
  7. Sweet potatoes (usually thin and small)
  8. Zucchini (usually thin and small)
  9. Squash (usually thin and small)
  10. Beets (usually thin and small)
  11. Fish (like salmon for sushi and sashimi)

It’s worth noting that while katsuramuki is most commonly used for vegetables, some chefs also use the technique to slice meat or fish into thin, delicate sheets for use in dishes such as sushi or sashimi.

Find out what exactly makes sushi different from sashimi (or not) here


In conclusion, katsuramuki cutting is a traditional Japanese culinary technique that involves peeling vegetables such as daikon radish and cucumber into paper-thin slices using a special Japanese knife with a razor-sharp edge. 

This technique not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of dishes but also improves the texture and flavor by increasing the surface area of the vegetable. 

Although it requires practice and skill to master, katsuramuki cutting is an impressive culinary art that is still widely used in Japanese cuisine today. 

Its intricate and delicate nature is a testament to the Japanese culinary tradition of precision and attention to detail.

So, the next time you make your own sushi at home, you can cut the cucumber and radish into thin strips using katsuramuki and your usuba knife.

Looking for an excellent usuba knife? I’ve reviewed the best usuba square cleavers here (+buying guide)

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.