You know what a Santoku knife looks like, but what do you know about Santoku knife uses?
Santoku means “three virtues” in Japanese, though it’s unknown whether “slicing, dicing, and chopping,” “meat, fish, and vegetables,” or “tip, edge, and heel” are the trio of virtues to which the name refers. However you choose to understand Santoku, you can be sure this knife is a general purpose kitchen tool that will fill a gap in the cutlery arsenal of any home cook.
Before we get started, it's important to note that a Santoku isn't made to replace a chef's knife just like chef's knives aren't made to replace Santoku knives. Instead, these two knives (and more) are made to work together to broaden the scope of ways in which home cooks and professional chefs can choose to prepare ingredients. If you would like to learn more about the differences and similarities read our santoku vs chef knives post
In this article, we'll be discussing Santoku knife uses by way of "slicing, dicing, and chopping," as those three possible "virtues" encompass the other six within them. Let's carve in!
Santoku and chef knives are both great at slicing, though their usage varies depending on what you're cutting.
The long, curved blade of a chef knife allows for it to quickly cut small items like herbs and garlic by way of a rocking motion (during which the tip of the knife stays firmly planted on the cutting board).
In contrast, Santoku blades — like the blades of many Japanese knives — are much more flat. Some Japanese knives are actually totally flat the entire length of the blade, while most Santokus (like Made In's Santoku Knife) typically have a small upward curve of the cutting edge near the knife's tip. This small curve aids in making slicing smoother, but isn't steep enough for a rocking motion method to be used.
What does all that mean? Santoku users slice by lifting the entire knife off the cutting board then pushing down and away from them into the food item rather than slicing by way of a rocking motion. This technique is slightly slower than that used with a Western style chef knife because a little more care has to be put into where the knife is placed, but the tradeoff is that it allows for the creation of thin slices.
Made In's Santoku Knife
The Santoku is a kitchen knife that excels at precision cuts like dicing because of their smaller, easily maneuverable blade size (typically around 7 inches, which is shorter than a typical Western chef knife). In addition, most Santoku knives have a blade angle of 10 to 15 degrees, giving them the ability to dice more precisely than knives with a wide blade.
Compared to a chef knife, a Santoku can dice more precisely. However, this comes at the expense of a marginal amount of prep time as chef knives and their rocking motion can dice a little more quickly than a Santoku knife. Because they're more precise, though, Santoku knives are better mincing tools than chef knives. When it comes to deciding between a chef knife and Santoku, it's truly all about the situation you're in!
Santokus were built for chopping — literally. The sharpness of their blade means they're able to cut through foods quickly while the flatness of the blade means they're able to cut through foods uniformly (due to the knife contacting the food at multiple points simultaneously).
The technique for chopping with a Santoku is the same as with slicing — quick, intentional pushes rather than a back-and-forth roll. Because chopping doesn't require as much uniformity and precision as slicing, a Santoku — with its maneuverability and quick up and down motions — can actually chop faster than a chef knife (even though it typically slices slower than one).
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