What is a Santoku knife?” might be difficult to answer for most Americans and Europeans to answer. The word santoku means “three virtues” and refers to the three types of cuts at which it excels—slicing, dicing, and chopping. For Japanese cooks a Santoku knife is the equivalent of the chef knife for the Western cook. Multiple oval indentations are ground into the side of the blade to help release the food as it slices. This is especially useful with fruit and protein where the moistness normally makes it stick to the blade.
Put simply, the Santoku is an all-purpose knife with a uniformly wide blade designed for slicing, dicing and mincing both large and small ingredients. Perfect for the home cook, this daily-use knife is ideal for preparing most fruit, vegetables and boneless meats, fish or poultry.
UNIQUE KNIFE SHAPE
With a blade that is the same width across its length and has a squared rather than a pointy end. The blade is uniformly wide, which makes it great for peeling cylindrical vegetables like daikon or carrots horizontally. Across the center of the blade oval-shaped cuts have been carved into the blade to help it release while it is cutting.
IDEAL BLADE SIZE
A santoku is an all-purpose kitchen knife that comes in 2 sizes. One size is similar to the chef’s knife while the mini-size is more similar in length to a utility knife. The 5″ (12.5 cm) mini-santoku can be used for small to medium cutting jobs in the kitchen. A larger 5.5″ (14cm) santoku knife is considered the standard size blade in Japan. Although larger blades can sometimes be found they are not ideal as the compactness and width of the blade is what brings out its special qualities. If the blade is longer the knife becomes more difficult to maneuver which in turn reduces consistency and cutting speed. Choose either the mini or standard blade depending on what sizes of fruit and vegetables you use most. Kikusumi offers a mini-santoku in the 3 kitchen knife set as well as a 5.5″ knife sold individually.
WHEN TO USE A SANTOKU
Useful for almost any job the Santoku knife is the one most commonly used by Japanese cooks. Vegetables, fruit, fish or boneless meat can be prepared successfully with a santoku knife because its wide blade makes even cutting more consistent and easier. A mini version of this knife achieves the best results with smaller and medium size vegetables and fruit like a kiwi. A 5.5″ (14 cm) blade does better with larger vegetables like daikon and onion.
When cutting larger quantities of ingredients, lighter knives will cause less fatigue compared to heavier knives. The blade profile of a Santoku is straight so that controlling the thickness of slices is easy. The thin blades on these knives make precision cutting effortless. Cutting with this uniquely shaped knife use a slight forward motion as the knife descends vertically. Once you get used to it you’ll find that you have much more control over the knife and the thickness of the cut. The santoku knife offers similar benefits to a typical Western chef’s knife but with the benefit of being lighter in weight and wider in blade which makes it easier to control.