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What is a Santoky Knife

santoku knife

Knives and swords are deeply rooted in Japanese culture and most seasoned chefs in Japan can be seen using a particular type of knife called Santoku – chefs who have used the Santoku vouch for the precision and versatility of this blade. 

The closest thing to a Santoku is an exceptionally designed chef’s knife. However, Santoku surpasses the chef’s knife in thinner, more precise cuts. If you are a professional or even a home chef, you should know more about Santoku. 

Everything from the design and the cutting technique for this traditional blade is a testament to Japanese craftsmanship.

When you first look at this unique blade, you naturally wonder what it can be used for. Sure, it’s the Japanese version of the chef’s knife, but it has different uses in the kitchen. Keep reading if you are wondering how to benefit from its unique design because this article will explain the uses of the Japanese Santoku and all essential things about this knife. 

Santoku Knife: History, Design and Features

By now, you can probably tell that Santoku is a precision knife of Japanese origin. Japanese kitchen knives traditionally had rectangular blades, and this design element is also evident in the Santoku.

There are many variations of the Santoku knife, with some advanced variants having a double edge (edge on both sides of the blade). 

The Santoku knife gained popularity in the 1940s among professional chefs due to its lightweight and easy-to-use design. The Japanese name Santoku translates to “three uses,” which explains the knife’s three primary uses. It is best suited for mincing, dicing, and slicing, holding to its versatile nature. Every chef looks for a single versatile blade that can handle multiple applications, and the Santoku offers just that. 

Another distinct feature of traditional Santoku is that these knives are made of high-carbon steel. This knife’s high carbon steel composition makes it durable and easy to sharpen. 

The highest quality examples of this knife are handmade. So you can expect each knife to have unique features such as a slightly different shape, thickness, or serrated edge. 

One more reason chefs worldwide admire the Santoku knife is that it has a thin blade. The carbon steel composition allows this knife to be thin yet strong. The thin blade of this knife allows chefs to make the slices as thin as they want. Its thin blade makes it perfect for various cutting uses. 

Santoku knives

What are some uses of the Santoku knife?

Now that you know what a Santoku knife is and what makes it stand out, you can better understand its intended uses. As mentioned in the previous section, the name of this knife translates to “three uses.” We will elaborate on the three primary uses of the Santoku below:

uses of the Santoku knife

Slicing meats, fruits, and vegetables: Slicing is arguably one of the most used cutting techniques in any kitchen. Whether preparing meat for cooking, presenting fresh fruits, or prepping raw vegetables, you must use the slicing technique. The Santoku knife is ideal for slicing food with great precision and uniformity to meet a chef’s cooking needs.

The super sharp and durable edge ensures you don’t damage the food item when slicing it. Every slice remains thin, predictable, and refined without squeezing or tearing the food being cut. The art of perfectly slicing any food using Santoku depends upon your blade’s sharpness. As long as the knife stays sharp and well maintained, you will continue getting perfect slicing performance from your Santoku. 

The edge of a santoku is designed so that meat doesn’t stick to its blade when you are slicing it. Whether it’s fish, chicken, or steak, the blade will glide through it without causing chunks to stick to the blade. 

Any chef trained to perform the slicing action will be able to make full use of this knife’s slicing abilities. A common technique to get the perfect slices is quickly moving the knife downwards through the food and simultaneously moving the blade towards yourself. The resulting slices from this technique are precise and clean. You get the best possible slices when you combine a slicing blade such as the Santoku with a precise cutting technique.

Chopping on a cutting board: Chopping food on a cutting board is still preferred by most experienced chefs. The knife and cutting board combo gives you excellent control over your chopping. Santoku knives come with a flat edge, so you have to lift the blade slightly off the cutting board and move it down correctly to chop vegetables and fruit. 

You will get the best chopping experience if you have a high-quality cutting board. Stabilizing the cutting board is another great way to ensure proper chopping with a santoku. Placing the cutting board on a flat surface will give you more control over chopping and preserve the edge of your knife. 

Chopping food with santoku knife

Mincing ingredients: Mincing ingredients such as garlic and coriander don’t require a food processor. A high-quality santoku knife provides chefs with the fine cutting capability that matches a chopping machine. The scalloped edge of the Santoku prevents food from sticking to the blade as you are mincing ingredients. 

Be it garlic, ginger, or chilly; you can quickly mince them thanks to the added weight of the santoku knife. You can also use the spine of the Santoku to scoop the minced ingredient off the cutting board, making it a convenient mincing tool. 

Mincing ingridients with santoku knife

Benefits of using a Santoku knife

Now that you know the three iconic uses of the Santoku knife, you’re probably wondering what benefits this blade offers over other chef knives. Here are some significant benefits of using the Santoku blade:

Thin slices: As mentioned earlier, the carbon steel blade of this knife allows it to be thin yet durable. The thin blade of the Santoku knife makes it possible for chefs to slice thinner than usual without compromising accuracy. 

Easy to sharpen: The carbon steel blade of this knife is easy to sharpen, and unlike stainless steel knives, it doesn’t break or get damaged with frequent sharpening. As a chef, it is essential to have a sharp knife in your arsenal, and the sharpenable blade of the Santoku makes it a chef’s best friend.

Durable and holds its edge: Santoku knives are known for their rigidity, and if you use a high-quality cutting board, this knife can hold its edge for a long time. You can make this knife last forever with proper care and timely cleaning.

Comes with a double-edge variation: The Santoku’s double-edge variants give a completely new dimension to the versatile nature of this knife. You can perform multiple cuts using this knife, but with an edge on both sides, you can hold it in either the left or the right hand. 

Doesn’t cause any waste: Another quality of a high-quality knife is that it doesn’t cause any waste while cutting. When you use the Santoku knife, there is no loss of juices or the skin of the fruit. Nothing sticks to the knife, making it the least wasteful blade you can get. 

Better control: Santoku knives have shorter blades than most Western chefs’ knives. The primary benefit of a short blade is that it allows the user better control over the cuts. You can easily maneuver this knife while performing different cuts, making it an easy-to-use option. 

Why  Japanese Chef’s knives are so expensive?

Conclusion

Santoku knives have been used in Japan since the mid-20th century, and they have recently gained popularity in the Western world as well. This knife can handle a wide range of uses and can cut multiple different types of foods and ingredients.

So if you are a chef looking for a versatile yet durable knife for your collection then this blade is for you.

Author: Aleks Nemtcev | Connect with me on LinkedIn

References:

Santoku Classik shun.kaiusa.com

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