What is an Alaskan Ulu Knife — and why does it come in a set? Allow us to explain.
Originally designed by indigenous Alaskan tribes thousands of years ago, the Ulu knife was primarily used to clean and prep animal skins for clothing. For over 5,000 years, Yupik, Aleut and Inuit people leaned on the knife for everything from trimming ice to cutting hair. Now, it’s seeing a culinary resurgence.
Like its forbears, the Alaskan Ulu Knife Set from Marcellin is designed to chop, mince and dice ingredients with a simple rocking motion that's easy on a chef and impressive to behold – your dinner guests will want to arrive early for the show.
Why Choose This Ulu Knife Set Over Others?
There are a few important factors to consider when shopping for an Ulu Knife. First, you’ll want to make sure to find one with a high-carbon stainless steel blade to ensure it's both food-safe and durable. Next, look for a piece with sturdy rivets – this one utilizes brass – to ensure it’s equipped to withstand years of motion.
Marcellin’s Ulu Knife Set ($65) boasts these necessary features, as well as an Acacia wood handle and a custom-rounded cutting board, cut specifically to match the knife's size and shape. That's the last necessary factor – due to its central rocking function, an Ulu knife is only as good as its cutting board. In buying the knife and cutting board as a set, Marcellin eliminates the need for a third-party curved board (that likely wouldn't fit properly).
The brand is "inspired by the good old-fashioned way of preparing food and drinks;" with this set, they’ve honored and preserved a very, very, very old-fashioned design.
How to Use an Ulu Knife
Many pros already use a rocking motion when chopping veggies. Common knife etiquette dictates that never completely lifting your blade from your cutting surface will provide maximum control and guarantee safety. And, as opposed to percussive chopping, rocking will prevent a cooking blade from growing dull for much longer.
The Ulu knife takes this one step further — and makes chopping wildly easier. The knife’s rounded blade makes it simple for even beginners to achieve a skilled rocking motion while slicing meats or produce and especially makes finely mincing herbs much, much easier. Its grip is also more ergonomic (and intuitive) than a traditional chef’s knife.
When paired with a perfectly scooped cutting board, the 'Ulu motion' is even more easily accomplished. Its rounded structure ensures the blade will easily rock back and forth while automatically pushing ingredients back into its path, meaning your fingers will stay out of harm's way.
Visual learners can check out a video of Lisa from Suttons Daze breaking down a bell pepper with her ulu knife here. Or, for pros ready to take it up a notch, check out Anchorage’s ‘Fastest Woman with an Ulu’ breaking down a salmon.
This is An Easy, Flashy Knife for Chefs, New and Old
Imagine gracefully chopping fresh garnishes for your next dinner party as your guests look on in awe. Picture yourself literally rocking through your prep list as you cook a special meal for two. Most of all, get ready for the pleasure of feeling like a pro.
The Marcellin Ulu Knife Set is an easy win: it’s shockingly affordable, super simple and gorgeous. It’ll make a great gift for any chef, no matter their skill level, and/or a perfect upgrade to your kitchen setup.
Once you're fully onboard the Ulu knife lifestyle, you can always upgrade further to traditional builds made with everything from Musk Ox Horns ($425) to Walrus Ivory ($550). But as a first foray, Marcellin is the no-brainer way to go.