What is a Santoku Knife?

The Santoku is an all-purpose knife and is a Japanese version of the western Chefs knife. Santoku translates to ‘three virtues’ however the jury is out on what those virtues are, some say it is referring to the ingredients the knife is used for; fish, meats, and vegetables, while others say it is all about the three cutting styles the knife is known for; mincing, slicing, and chopping.

Miyabi santoku

Santoku knife Anatomy

The Santoku is characterised by its squared shape with a mostly straight edge curving up slightly at the tip with the spine curving down into a sheepsfoot tip, named for its likeness to a sheep’s hoof and designed to avoid accidentally piercing your ingredients.

What can I cut with a Santoku?

As mentioned in the ‘three virtues’ the Santoku knife can be used for mincing, slicing and chopping fruits, vegetables, meats and fish, although it is usually more favoured for fruit and vegetables among professionals due to the flatter edge.

What is the difference between a Santoku and a Western Chefs knife?

The western Chefs knife is a much thicker knife and can be used for the more robust tasks in the kitchen while the Santoku is a thinner knife that is used to make more delicate, cleaner cuts which can really elevate presentation and make cooking an enjoyable experience! We have talked about the sheepsfoot tip of the Santoku, the western Chefs knife in contrast has a longer, thinner tip with the edge and spine curving to meet at a much finer point, this curve in the edge makes it more suited to a rocking motion rather than the chopping of the Santoku. There is also, traditionally, no bolster on a Santoku whereas one can be found on most Chefs knives.

What is the difference between the Santoku knife and a Gyuto knife?

The Gyuto shares a lot of features with the Santoku, they are both thin blades made from much harder steel and they both have a flatter edge compared to the western Chefs knife making the suited for the ‘push pull’ or ‘up down’ cutting techniques. The Gyuto however is a longer blade than the Santoku and has a more defined curve in the edge bringing it to a sharper tip, although not as defined as the western Chefs knife.

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