What Is A Santoku Knife

Written by our Asian correspondent

It is said by John Thorne that cooks or aspiring professional cooks are majorly divided into  two categories which are the pot cookers and the knife cookers. And a person who chooses either one has their own set of reasons for choosing so and that each has its own benefits. It can be tested if the house is on fire, and then the person will go back to save the first the cookware that is close to his / her heart.

Seeing a standard knife and a Santoku knife together, you will notice the difference in their appearance. The standard knife has a round blade that is made intentionally to create a rocking motion while slicing any given foodstuff.

It is learned by professional chefs that when they are chopping vegetables which involves the up and down movement of the knife, it is best to use the Santoku because it is made according to that kind of motion. Santoku best performs in dicing vegetables for a pot mix, such as carrots, onions and celery in to chunks. It is also used to cut cooked chickens into smaller pieces for salads and slice potatoes into thin proportions, as we first saw in the Santoku history article.

The Santoku originated in Japan made by the noblest craftsmen who legendarily created the famous Samuria Swords which are also known as the Katana. The Santoku Japanese Chef Knife is very popular and it is very well known in every country in the world. This kind of knife can be seen mostly on the television cooking shows and the demand is very much increasing like the speed of lightning. One of the famous cooking shows in America which is hosted by Rachel Ray used the Santoku knife and she mentioned that it is her most favorite knife of all. This knife is making its way to the top of the ladder and it is also the choice of people who have relatively small hands. We can now even buy Shun classic left handed Santoku!

In the other parts of the world, there are wide ranges in the length of the Santoku but in the mainland of Japan, it has just a length of five to seven inches. The angle that is innate in this knife is lesser than the regular one and the steel that is used to produce these items depends on the manufacturers, but they are all made to withstand incredible force. Sometimes, ceramic is used as an alternative for the steel blades, but this is not the norm.

Santoku Origins

There are so many stories behind the origin of the Santoku knife. Some people say that it is the product of the unholy marriage of two knives which are the gyuto and the usaba. Others said that the rise of this knife comes from the very poor segregation of knives a long time ago and that they discovered the cutting ability of the Santoku, which is able to cut both vegetables and meat with very perfect result. Moreover, there are people who are saying that the Meiji Renaissance played a very big role in the evolution of the chef knives in Japan. During that era one is not allowed to take care of even one Samurai Sword as a sign of industrialization. The craftsmen do not want to end their noble art and decided to craft a different kind of material, which is the Santoku. From that day on, people considered this Japanese knife as a piece of art and they have a high regards on its existence.

Nowadays, Santoku knife is still considered to be the best choice among the other chef knives that you can find in the market because of the overall performance of this knife. It has so many purposes and it can be able to perform a very clean cut in every strike that you are going to make. One of the most popular being the Shun Classic 7 Inch hollow ground Santoku Knife.

The Santoku is five to seven inches long and it is very noticeable that the edge of the knife is equally flat. The sheep’s foot tip characteristic of this knife adds to its uniqueness. The dull portion of the knife which is near the handle has on equal level to the handle itself. In this kind of manner, you can rest your fingers comfortably on the handle and on the dull blade portion, which will create a wonderful harmony when you perform a cut. The meaning of the word santoku is having three virtues or three purposes. These virtues are the ability of the knife to perform well in slicing, dicing and mincing.

Fine Control

Shun Premier Santoku KnifeThe main purpose of having a sheep’s foot tip of the Santoku is for the user to easily move the backstrap of the knife in a down and front motion. It is also there so that the user will have an optimum control on the knife upon every strike that you are going to make when slicing an object. Furthermore, the straight dull portion of the blade that is equal to the height of the handle is created to have a space for your fingers to rest on so that there will be a flawless movement of the knife.

This feature of the knife will minimize the rocking for it is not effective to use such technique in the Santoku due to its structural make up. Upon comparing the Santoku to the Western knife, the western knife is a great tool to use when you are going to use a rocking technique because, unlike the Santoku, it doesn’t have a sheep’s foot and the cutting edge has a wide angle.

A magnificent example to exemplify this statement is when you are going to dice an onion. In a Western knife, you will use the rocking technique which is done by a downward initial movement followed by a rock, while in Santoku knife, the technique is a whole lot different; the movement will involve a up and down motion every time you are going to finish a cut. The motion that you will experience in using a Santoku is just one for the entire time of using it even if you are going to slice a different object, which is the up and down motion.

It is said to be used majorly by professionals in cooking, due to the fact that you will need an immense form of practice for you to comfortably work with it. The up and down motion technique is not something that can be learned overnight, it might sound easy but it is truly not. Don’t be discourage that in a few attempts you find it very hard to manipulate, because If you really want to learn, you will surely find a way and you will be able to reach the level of being an expert in using the Santoku.

Common Santoku Knife Characteristics

There are some characteristics that is innate in the Santoku knife when you are going to compare it with other knives. First, it weights lesser compared to others. Second, when you are going to measure the length it is unusually shorter. Lastly, the width is so much thinner and the blade of this knife is hardened. Commonly, a regular chef knife would be at the average length of 8 inches.

Upon contrasting it to the thickness of the German and French knives, it has a big difference; thinner kind of steel are being utilize to manufacture the blade of a Santoku and to counteract the extremely thin cutting edge characteristic, it is being hardened more. The blade angle of a traditional chef knife that you can find on a kitchen home is at an average angle of 40 – 45 degrees, the Japanese ordinary knife has 10 – 15 degrees, while the Santoku has 10 – 12 degrees.

Owning a high quality knife with a perfect figure, size and style is not just enough because you must keep in mind that you are going to maintain the sharpness that it has. In order to have a high quality knife you must not rely solely on the physical appearance of it because as the old saying said, “looks can be deceiving”. You must examine the difference of a mediocre knife from a good quality knife; it all boils down to the manufacturing company with a very good reputation, the raw materials being utilized to complete the production of the knife as well as the balance that it can maintain when used in actual chopping of objects. For example, when you are going to buy a Santoku, it is best that you are going to choose the one that has a tang that extends to the handle of the knife. Also, the quality of the knife depends on the quality of the steel that is incorporated in the knife.

Today, there are plenty of manufacturers that are in the industry of cutlery produce a Santoku knife of their own because the demand for such kind of knife is increasing fast. There are so many commercials of such products in the television as well as in the newspaper. Also, the internet is being invaded with online shops with different brands of Santoku.

The Santoku that you can find in the old times is different from what is being produced currently because the manufacturers added some other features to their own version of Santoku. For example, the brand Edge of Belgravia Damascus incorporated a fashionable handle. They did it so that they can be able to get the attention of the customers because as we all know the world today is very competitive, especially in the field of business. Another difference that is the addition of the kellenschliff, scallops or recesses; these feature that can be found on the majority of the Santoku prototype will help lessen the friction and it will enhance a separation ability of the knife. Also, the prototype is made from softer steel which will result to a divergence from the original balance that is natural in the Santoku. The original version doesn’t need such kind of alteration because it relies only to the innate characteristics of the steel that is used in manufacturing the Santoku and also to the geometry that is naturally present in the structure of the Santoku.

Due to the fact that there are so many brands of Santoku available in the market today, you will have plenty of selections to choose from. You can always find a Santoku anywhere on the kitchenware department of your choice of shopping mall or you can even browse the net for online shops that offer such kind product. The choice is yours if where are you going to buy a Santoku for your personal use, what matters is the quality. If you don’t want to crowd at the mall to buy a Santoku then opt to purchase online. They are also offering wide varieties of brands and the prices are discounted. All you need to do is do some clicks on your mouse to place an order and you are good to go. The item that you have placed on your online cart will be delivered to you, door to door. The transportation of the items that you bought will just take a few days and all you have to do is to relax while waiting for the Santoku that you ordered online.

The price range of the Santoku knives are different and will vary on the brand that you have chosen and the quality of the materials that the manufacturers used to produce the item. Please don’t be in a hurry in shopping for the right Santoku knife. Take your time to find the best one that is within the means of your budget because there is always a great deal in one corner if you are just patient enough to search for it. Do not overspend and look for something that is of good quality because you might buy a Santoku knife that cost a little but it can easily be damaged.


Proper maintenance is the key to keep the quality of a Santoku knife. A dull knife is nothing but a useless piece of junk; therefore, always take good care of the knife that you have chosen. These are few of the tips that will maintain the quality of your knife; first, always hand-wash the knife following every use to maintain its cleanliness and before setting it aside to its storage area, be sure that you dried it very well and remember that you must not clean the Santoku knife with the aid of the dishwasher because it will damage its sharpness and sharpening it will cost you an extra amount of money.

The storage area of the Santoku must not contain any other hard materials for it might come in contact with it and it will create chipping of the blade. The best place to keep your knife safely is in the knife drawer or knife organizer; there, you will be absolutely sure that it won’t touch anything hard. And when you are going to slice an object, make it sure that the chopping board that you are going to use is made of wood. Other types of chopping board will just result to the destruction of your Santoku Japanese Knife.

Eventually, the Santoku will lose its sharpness and you have to regain it because without the sharpness, it will be considered to be a useless object. Do not ever attempt to sharpen the blade on your own because you might deform it and it will not go back in to its original form, instead go to the nearest knife store in your area and let the professional handle it. The amount of money that you will be spending will be from 3 to 5 dollars and you will have to repeat the procedure in 2 to 3 months time.

Before you are going to start your journey with the Santoku knife, you must first practice on how you are going to hold it in a proper way. The right way of holding the knife is by initially done by positioning your index finger and thumb just at the rear corner of the blade to create enough support. The rest of the remaining fingers should be wrapped around the handle which is in proper alignment of the created finger grooves, if the knife that you have has one.

Holding the knife as previously stated, grab the vegetable that you are going to cut using your free hand. Create the first cut in a manner of pushing the knife downward while drawing it towards yourself and then you will draw the knife to the other end of the vegetable to complete the cut. Repeat the entire procedure until the vegetable is completely sliced down into the desired number of pieces.

In addition, there is another technique that can be used with the Santoku knife; it is by applying some pressure above the blade with the utilization of the palms of your free hand. This kind of technique is best when you are going to slice items that don’t need to be stabilize like the mincing and dicing of onions or garlic and the like.

Using the Santoku will very much delight you in so many ways. With proper practice, you can be able to master the technique that is compatible with this kind of knife. All the hard work that you have will certainly pay off and you won’t regret a single thing about learning to use the Santoku Japanese Chef Knife.

The up and down technique that is compatible with the Santoku Japanese Chef Knife is not an easy task to do especially if you are just beginning to learn. You need a strong determination and a pure heart if you want to master the art behind every perfect cut that the Santoku will make. With a day to day practice, you will eventually become a master of such technique and you will surely appreciate all the effort that you have invested in learning. It is really worth the effort and time. Be amaze and experience that beauty that it has on a first hand basis. If you are really willing to learn, start now and do not wait for another day to come.

If you want to give it a shot and become an expert then buy your own Santoku. In buying one, you must orient yourself about the advantages as well as the disadvantages that it will give you. Also, ask the opinions of other people who have experienced using the Santoku knife. It is better if you know somebody who has been using the Santoku, or if you don’t know anybody, then you can always open your computer and search at the internet regarding the reviews of the Santoku and learn from the experiences of many people.  In that manner, you will be enlightened and it will make you decide on what brand you are going to buy. It is very important for you to know all the details about this knife, so that you can be able to choose that best knife there is in the market today.

When you already have one in your hands, always remember to take good care of it and use it according to its intended purpose so that it will last a lifetime. Also, you must not be selfish and share your experiences to other people, they might be inspired of the story that you are going to tell and they will be able to appreciate the brilliance of the Santoku even better. Live up your dreams and do not let anybody or anything stand in your way because the only thing that matters in reaching what you want is yourself. Do whatever you can to reach it as long as you haven’t got in the way of other people’s lives. Having a Santoku Japanese Chef Knife on your hands might be one of the best things that you could ever have. Aside from the perks of having a very good looking knife in your kitchen, it is also a multipurpose kind of knife and it will certainly make your life in line with cooking comfortable.

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