Uses for Santoku Knives

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Santoku knives are one of the most versatile Japanese knives. Of all the western knives, the santoku knife is most similar to the chef's knife, although it is lighter and smaller. Santoku translates to "three virtues," referring to its versatility. Use santoku knives to cut through vegetables and meats,. The main difference between a santoku and a chef's knife is that the blade of a santoku is not curved like a chef's knife, resulting in a different cutting technique.

Characteristics

  • The santoku knife has a relatively uncurved blade ending in a moderate point. Some santoku knives, especially those made outside of Japan, have hollowed-out indentions along the side of the blade. These are meant to make food items stick less to the blade. A santoku knife has a thin, lightweight blade that comes to a sharp edge, traditionally one-sided although often beveled when produced in the west.

Technique

  • Since the blade of a santoku is not curved, use a vertical motion with the blade. This can be disconcerting at first to cooks who are used to using the rolling motion commonly associated with chef's knives. Although it may seem like hefting the blade up and down for every cut would become tiresome, santoku blades are very sharp and much more lightweight than a traditional chef's knife.

Primary Uses

  • Santoku knives are for all-purpose kitchen chopping, slicing and mincing of vegetables and meats. The blade is typically shorter than a chef's knife, allowing cooks to be more precise in their work. The flat blade works well for scraping foods off a chopping board.

Care

  • Santoku knives, like other knives, should be hand washed, preferably just after the cutting job is complete. Due to its thinner blade, the santoku should not be used against hard cutting surfaces, such as glass or marble. Sharpen a single-edged santoku knife made in the traditional style with a stone. Sharpen a beveled-edge santoku knife made in the western style with a stone or with a regular knife-sharpening tool. Alternatively, take the knives to a professional knife sharpener.

The Chef's Knife vs. the Santoku

  • The chef's knife and the santoku can largely be used interchangeably. A santoku, for some people, is a suitable replacement for the chef's knife in their western set of knives. The chef's knife is heavier and larger than the santoku, and has a longer, curved blade. Some people find the santoku blade to be too small and light for use as an all-purpose knife and either use it for precision tasks that a paring knife is too small for, use it as a sort of back up to their main chef's knife, or omit it altogether from their collection. Base the choice between using a santoku or a chef's knife on individual preferences.

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  • Photo Credit Photo by hywell: Flickr.com
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