Though the Santoku knife is of Japanese origin, it is becoming more popular in Western kitchens thanks to its versatility. The word “Santoku” in Japanese means “three virtues.” It can be used to describe the knife’s superior ability to chop, dice, and mince, though some believe that the word refers to the three parts of the edge.Whats the difference between a Santoku and chef knife?
Santoku knives can perform the same tasks that chef’s knives can. However, Santoku knives are generally used for tasks that require finer slicing and dicing because of their thin blades. There are three main differences between a Santoku knife and a classic chef’s knife, and they are described here:
- Shape: The main difference between a Santoku knife and a chef knife is the shape. The Santoku is shaped like a sheep’s hoof and has less of a curve than a classic chef’s knife, thus relying on a straight-down motion instead of a rocking motion for chopping. The height of the Santoku blade also makes it much easier to move food from the cutting board to the pan or mixing bowl.
- Steel: The Santoku knife is generally made from a harder steel than a chef’s knife. Thanks to this harder steel, the Santoku knife can be made thinner and sharper than a chef’s knife.
- Size and balance: The Santoku knife is generally shorter than the chef’s knife, but it is balanced extremely well. This makes the Santoku a choice for chefs who feel like the classic chef’s knife is too big or uncomfortable to handle.
- Thickness: It is impossible to cut thin slices with a thick blade; therefore, a very thin blade is absolutely necessary for thinly slicing meat, vegetables, or cheese.
- Cutting angle: The smaller the angle, the sharper the blade. An angle of less than 20 degrees is ideal, as it will allow the chef to chop easily through the tough skin of many fruits and vegetables.
- Strength: Strength is an important aspect of a Santoku knife, as a strong blade will retain its sharpness for longer. The strongest ones are forged — not stamped — from high-carbon steel, often in a Damascus pattern, which is stronger than stainless steel. A triple-riveted, full-tang handle offers strength.
- Height: A blade that is at least the height of the food to be cut makes it easier to produce even slices.
- Hollow edges: Also called dimples, divots, or a Granton edge, this helps keep food from sticking to the side of the knife. While these divots don’t completely prevent this problem, they do help, especially when cutting hard vegetables. Overall, they save time, as the chef will not have to stop as often to remove stuck food.