Santoku vs. Chef’s Knife
Only a few short years ago, it would have been uncommon to see a Santoku – a Japanese style knife – in the average North American home kitchen. But, with the popularity of cooking shows and entire cooking networks, the western home-cook has been exposed to the cuisine, cooking techniques and utensils of the world. Throw in a few infomercials and the internet and what once was niche is now main stream, including the Santoku knife.
The Japanese word Santuko can roughly be translated to mean “three virtues”, referring to the knives’ ability to chop, cut and dice or mince. The Chef’s knife, the workhouse of many kitchens, is designed to do pretty much the same thing, so, what are the real differences between the two?
The standard chef’s knife blade measures between 8-10 inches while the Santoku blade is slightly smaller, measuring between 5-7 inches. That being said, you can find a shorter chef’s knife or a longer Santoku.
The two characteristics that define the Santoku are its dimples and its straight blade. The dimples not only add style but are designed to release slices of sticky food with greater ease. The straight blade, as opposed to the chef’s tapered blade, is intended to provide a well-balanced grip but in return, does not allow for the rocking motion that many cooks prefer in a chef’s knife.
Generally speaking the Santoku is lighter and easier to handle for novice chefs. Women, or individuals with smaller hands, tend to prefer the feel of the Santoku knife.
Both knives were designed to be a universal kitchen knife and perform relatively well in a variety of tasks. If you mince or dice often and are accustomed to the rocking motion of the chef’s knife, the Santoku may be difficult to adjust to. Overall, it comes down to what is most comfortable for the user. We recommend that you take the opportunity to use each of them before making an investment in a good quality product.