What is a Santoku?
Traditionally a Santoku, which translates literally as ‘three good things,’ is a type of Japanese Chef’s knife. Unlike most Western Chef’s knive it is lighter in weight and its narrow blade edge is shorter and straighter, almost flat, and more hardened, making it perfect for chopping, dicing and mincing vegetable as well as slicing fish and smaller-boned and/or boneless meats thinly.
A Santoku lets you to cleave and chop various types of meat and it’s shorter length version (5 inch) allows it to perform as an all-purpose knife similar to a Kitchen utility knife or Petty knife in that it can mince and dice various fruits and vegetables.
Typically, a Santoku knife ranges from 5-7 inch blade lengths and is a great alternative if you have small hands and find that using a cleaver is too cumbersome. A Santoku is designed with a comfortable well-balanced handle grip that allows for excellent cutting performance.
Most Western Santoku knives are available in the same lengths as the Japanese Santoku, although some brands come in shorter lengths as well as in ceramic. Western made Santoku knives have a distinctive Granton edge (hollowed out oval or scalloped patterns along the blade’s edge) for the purpose of keeping turgid or sticky foods such as vegetable from sticking to the blade as you cut while a traditional Japanese Santoku has a laminated blade and does not have a granton edge, nor is it completely hand forged.
Unlike a Western style Chef’s knife a traditional Santoku has a bilateral acute cutting edge with an extreme 12-15 degree shoulder, which is typical of most Japanese cutlery.
A traditional Japanese Santoku also has limited “rocking” travel in comparison to a Western-style Chef’s knife which slices downward and then rocks the tip forward to complete a cut, i.e., a Japanese Santoku relies more on a single downward chopping cut and even landing from heel to tip making most efficient at cutting vegetables and fruit.
Many copies of the traditional Santoku that are made outside of Japan have substantially different edge designs, different balance and weight, and softer steels thus requiring a thicker cutting edge profile with more material behind their cutting edge making them easier to sharpen.
All traditional santoku knive’s are made with a harder steel so edge retention is maintained and “rolling” of the thin cutting edge is mitigated. Every Santoku includes oval indentations as a major aspect of its blade’s design and will hold its edge longer between maintenance.
Top 10 best rated Santoku’:
- 7-inch Shun DM0718 – Made in Japan
- 7-inch Wusthof 4175 – Made in Germany
- 7-inch Global G-48 – Made in Japan
- 4-inch OXO 1064754 – Made in England
- 7-inch Zwilling J.A. Henckels 31119-183 – Made in Germany
- 7-inch Victorinox 47529 – Made in Switzerland
- 5-inch Ginsu 04858 – Made in U.S.A
- 7-inch Furi Rachael Ray FUR901 – Made in China from high carbon German stainless-steel
- 5.5-inch Enclume MPB-06 – Made in China from High carbon German stainless-steel
- 6-inch Furi FUR888 – Made in China from high carbon German stainless-steel
As is true for all quality kitchen knives the prices of a Santoku is determined by the construction details, quality of steel, whether it has a full or partial tang and how it is assembled. Although there are many higher priced models, a good affordable Santoku for $15 is readily available
As with most kitchen knives, putting a Santoku in the dishwasher is not recommended. It should be hand-washed and completely dried before storing.
Filed under: Santoku knives
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