This Japanese knife is traditionally used to clean and net whole fish, but it is also used to boning poultry and other meats with small bones. The significant weight of the Deba is desirable because, with sufficient care, the heel section is robust enough to be used to cut the bones found in small and medium-sized fish and poultry.
These Japanese knives are commonly used to cut fish heads in half and when used with the proper techniques, they can be safely used to remove and split crab legs for example. However, the Deba is not recommended for cutting large bones, and care should be taken, as with all knives, not to subject the edge of the blade to lateral forces which can cause cracks.
The Deba's column thins out over its entire length, which means that it is also possible to have a tip that is thin enough and sensitive enough for the user to feel whether it touches the bones or not. This is an ideal characteristic for a knife used for threading. The Deba's tapered blade and sturdy handle create a point of balance centered on the heel of the blade, making this knife feel much more nimble than you would expect.
Because Japanese cuisine uses many sizes and species of fish and seafood, the Deba is available in many types and sizes. The Mioroshi Deba (literally, filter Deba), the Ai-deba, and the Aji-kiri, or Ko-deba (literally little Deba)